Editorials

Kenyan farmers can rise to KFC potato challenge

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A KFC outlet in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • American fast food restaurant chain KFC has softened its stance on local sourcing of its raw materials following an uproar surrounding its importation of potatoes for fries over quality concerns.
  • KFC says it will allow local suppliers who meet its stringent standards to supply it with potatoes which it uses to make French fries, commonly known as chips.
  • This is after the firm was hit by a shortage of potatoes at its outlets in Kenya following delays in delivery from its overseas suppliers, forcing it to offer customers alternative food items in place of the fast-moving fries.

American fast food restaurant chain KFC has softened its stance on local sourcing of its raw materials following an uproar surrounding its importation of potatoes for fries over quality concerns.

KFC says it will allow local suppliers who meet its stringent standards to supply it with potatoes which it uses to make French fries, commonly known as chips.

This is after the firm was hit by a shortage of potatoes at its outlets in Kenya following delays in delivery from its overseas suppliers, forcing it to offer customers alternative food items in place of the fast-moving fries.

The development has once again shone the spotlight on what is ailing Kenya’s agricultural sector.

It is shocking that despite having been in the country for more than a decade, it cannot find a single local farmer it can work with to develop capacity to meet its standards. This is not just a strategic business decision but also a moral one.

However, it will be unfair to put all the blame on the company since its primary mandate is not to develop Kenyan farmers.

To keep its brand, it also must ensure that its raw materials meet specific global standards, which local suppliers are yet to meet. But many companies have used the excuse of standards to continue importing raw materials at the expense of local suppliers, shipping out jobs.

For a country that is largely driven by agriculture, the KFC saga has also exposed a failure of policy and the Ministry of Agriculture in exposing local farmers to global standards.

There is no reason the company should still be importing potatoes from Egypt almost 11 years down the line, when Kenyan farmers are hurting from cyclic wastages during harvesting seasons.

KFC is not the only global restaurant to set up in Kenya.

Long before it there were South African fast food brands Steers and Debonairs. Then came Cold Stone Creamery, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Burger King. It is time Kenyan farmers took up KFC on its quality challenge and put a stop to imports of food items that can be easily produced locally.