No Mashed Potatoes at KFC Outlets in China

With their potatoes failing to meet the quality requirements of the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food chain, domestic farmers have missed a lucrative deal to supply 300 million yuan (US$36 million) worth of the tubers annually to KFC outlets across China.

Since the end of last month, KFC outlets in major Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, have stopped serving their popular mashed potato dish due to a shortage of their potato supply.

The shortage resulted from logistics problems at the U.S. headquarters of Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., which owns the giant fast-food chain. Potatoes used at KFC outlets in China are normally imported from the United States.

KFC shops in smaller cities also will face a "potato crisis" as soon as their supply runs out, according to Tricon Global's Chinese branch, which said at least 5 million tons of mashed potatoes are consumed each year at KFC outlets nationwide.

Last month, KFC tried to seek homegrown supply from three potato suppliers in Shanghai and Inner Mongolia, but found their potatoes were not up to standards.

"We were satisfied with the samples, but the real products in their fields had many problems, such as the unsuitable size and impurity," said Xu Zhen, public affairs manager of the operator of the KFC chain in China. "Their processing, storage and transportation conditions also need to be improved."

Fang Zhiquan, a spokesman for Shanghai Vegetable Office, blamed inadequate sunlight at domestic potato plantations for the limited quality of Chinese potatoes.

Fang noted that the problem can be solved by technological support.

"To become internationally competitive, we have to develop our own agricultural technologies rather than relying on the imported ones, which may involve intellectual property issues," he said.

Meanwhile, Tricon Global is seeking its supplementary potatoes from Australia and the United Kingdom, Xu said. "But due to quality-control tests, it would take at least two months before they arrive."

( 07/31/2001)

In This Series

McDonald’s to Offer Franchises in China

Fast Food Giants Compete on Opening Outlets



Web Link