In early 2018, a supply chain crisis made media headlines across the United Kingdom, the termed “KFC Crisis” as consumers bemoaned on a shortage of prepared fried chicken. Supply Chain Matters updates readers on new developments.

As a top-rated blog addressing global developments in supply chain management and technology, Supply Chain Matters strives to update readers on all aspects of developments, even as the general media and industry focused media headlines subside.

In February 2018, fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken was forced to temporarily close most of its United Kingdom outlets after widespread shortages of prepared chicken product occurred. At its height, upwards of 550 outlets were impacted, forcing British media to coin the headline, “KFC Crisis” and some consumers to actually call their local emergency services office to declare an emergency because they could not partake of their favorite prepared chicken menu items.

The fast-food chain has blamed the shortage squarely in the laps of global logistics provider DHL, which took-on the new food replenishment delivery contract from a previous UK-based specialty food logistics provider.

DHL had announced in November 2017 that it would assume the supply and distribution of food products, when the then existing distribution contract expired in February 2018, along with other restaurant items for KFC outlets across the UK. Compounding this crisis was  that upwards pf 95 percent of UK outlets were run by franchisees.

As the weeks wore on, reports we monitored pointed to cascading snafus related to various distribution center staffing levels, inventory management snafus and an initial troubled new order management replenishment software that prolonged shortages.

Contract Renewal

In mid-March, the Daily Mail reported that more disruption awaits following KFC‘s new decision to switch back to logistics supplier Best Food Logistics for their deliveries, after DHL elected not re-bid for the southern portion of the food distribution contract. The new contract reportedly involves the affiliated Taco Bell fast food chain in addition to KFC.

The Mail report cited sources that fear that Best Food’s plans and routes are unrealistic, and ‘feathers will fly’. A specific source indicated: KFC fans should rightly be worried. More disruption awaits.In response, KFC sources indicated:

We had a tough year and have been working really hard to continue to deliver fresh chicken every day. We’ve decided to switch back to Best Food who have done a great job in supporting us while we got back on track.’”

In a separate published report, DHL indicated to UK-based MotorTransport: The deal was made for “strategic reasons and in no way reflects on the performance of the Rugby (Distribution Center) operation which has achieved excellent results in recent months and throughout the Christmas peak. However, DHL remains committed to Rugby as a strategic location and will make every effort in the coming months to secure a new customer for the warehouse.”

Supply Chain Matters Perspective

Let’s be real- the last thing UK fast food connoisseurs need right now is another KFC crisis, in the midst of the far more troubling, forever ongoing Brexit crisis. Potential shortages of food, medicines and other products if the UK exits the EU without a formal agreement seems a far more worry some condition.

All kidding aside, we would anticipate that all parties have acquired important learning over the past twelve months, and that both KFC and Best Food Logistics are up to the task at-hand, and there will be no redux of a KFC crisis. There is one caveat, however, is that is Brexit.

To our UK-based readers, rest easy, for supplies of KFC products will be available to sustain the anxieties of British politics and brinkmanship.


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