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Furore over Kenya fries fiasco

NAIROBI (AFP) – A United States (US) fast-food chain has triggered an online furore in Kenya after it ran out of fries, with local Twitter users threatening a boycott because it does not use locally sourced potatoes.

“You love our chips a little too much, and we’ve run out. Sorry!” the fast-food chain admitted on Twitter this week, offering its customers various alternatives.

The franchise’s Regional Boss Jacques Theunissen said it had become the latest casualty of global shipping disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has to do with delays in shipping lines due to the Covid situation,” he told local news outlet Business Daily.

He said the fast-food chain was hoping to resolve the shortage with the expected arrival of a container-load of potatoes this week.

KFC Kenya blamed the potato shortage on shipping disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic. PHOTO: AFP

But it was his admission that the company does not source potatoes from local farmers that ignited a Twitter storm among Kenyans.

“All suppliers need to go through the global quality assurance approval process and we cannot bypass that even if we run out to ensure that our food is safe for consumption by our customers,” Theunissen said.

With the news coming during Kenya’s potato harvesting season, many took to social media to call for people to snub the fast-food giant.

“If you are a true Kenyan, you should not eat chips prepared by the fast-food chain! Eat chips elsewhere,” one user tweeted.

The fried chicken franchise entered the Kenyan market in 2011 and has 35 outlets across the East African region.

Kenya grows more than 60 different varieties of potatoes, with farmers currently struggling with a glut.

In an apparent U-turn, the fast-food chain said on Tuesday it had initiated plans to source potatoes from Kenyan farmers, adding it was already doing so for other goods such as poultry, vegetables, flour and ice cream.

Competitors were quick to take advantage of the gaffe to promote their own chips, with Burger King tweeting: “We have enough fries for everyone.”