Kenyan KFC runs out of potatoes as farmers battle oversupply

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), an American fast-food chain, announced it was running out of fries even as Kenyan farmers battled an oversupply of produce.

In a tweet, the fast-food restaurant said that following increased demand for their fries over the holiday season, the franchise was running out of fries and therefore only served ugali, du chicken, soda, rolls and coleslaw.

“Fam, it really was a December Furaha. You ate the feast with your KFC favourites (You celebrated with your favourite KFC dish). You liked our chips a little too much and we’re running out of them, ”KFC said in a tweet.

This even as local farmers continued to experience a glut, with the farm gate price of the 90kg bag hitting an all-time low of 450-600 shillings in Molo, Nakuru County.

Nakuru County, according to the 2019 census results, had the highest number of households growing potatoes. The other major potato producing counties are Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kiambu and Murang’a.

KFC does not use locally produced potatoes to prepare its fries but imports them from Egypt as there is still no one in Kenya who can supply large quantities of frozen, blanched potatoes in pre-cut slices.

However, according to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), a tool for visualizing international trade data, the main source of potatoes imported from Kenya are the Netherlands, which supplies almost 90 per cent. tubers.

India was the largest source of imported potatoes in the world, providing 10.4% of the food crop.

Potatoes are Kenya’s second-largest food crop, after maize. The amount of potatoes produced in the country fell to 1.9 million bags last year, from two million bags in 2019, according to official data.

However, a decline in effective demand due to job losses saw a kilo of the harvest retailed at an average price of Sh67.3 last year, down 5.34% from Sh71.1 in 2019. “People who ate out find it cheaper to eat at home,” said Dr Timothy Njagi, a researcher at the Tegemeo Institute, a public policy think tank.

However, demand for potatoes at fast food outlets increased after social distancing rules were relaxed, peaking in December as Kenyans dined out with friends and families.

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