By Josephine Njoroge

What you need to know:

  • KFC said it could not sell chips because its stock of imported potatoes had run out.

Kenyans have reacted angrily after popular fast food chain KFC said it had run out of potatoes to make chips.

KFC said it could not sell chips because its stock of imported potatoes had run out.

The firm’s Chief Executive for East Africa Jacques Theunissen told the Business Daily: “It has to do with delays in shipping lines due to the Covid situation. Ships have been delayed for more than a month now, but we are working hard to restore as the first containers are arriving in the port tomorrow (today).”

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What angered many Kenyans is the fact that Kenya is an agriculture-rich nation that produces tonnes of potatoes in its highlands, most of which go to waste due to lack of a market.

By 11am, #BoycottKFC was the top trending topic on Twitter in Kenya.

KFC, which operates locally through franchise Kuku Foods East Africa, does not source potatoes locally because of what it calls global quality standards.

The firm added that it cannot bypass the approval procedures to allow local farmers to fill in the gap.

“The reason we cannot buy local at the moment is all suppliers need to go through the global QA approval process and we cannot bypass that even if we run out to ensure that our food is safe for consumption by our customers,” explained Theunissen.

The matter caused a social media uproar with many Kenyans threatening to boycott the restaurant for failing to support local farmers.

Expressing their fury, some of those commenting said the restaurant should also import their customers.

Import customers

Hotelier Mohammed Hersi led the outrage tweeting: “What a joke in a farming nation with real potatoes and not that stuff they serve at @kfc.  These hurdles must not be allowed. We don’t produce parts for Boeing or Airbus.”

AlbashEA @albertoyugi_ said: “I didn’t know I’ve been buying from those folks…they can as well import customers… I’m out!”

Dominic Ng’ang’a @domngash “They should also import customers.”

Joel Kamiru went on: “I’m not visiting KFC from now on! I believe even their chicken is imported.”

Altruistic @kenyanengineer lamented: “I think they import chicken too. And the government allows? Kenya is becoming…”

Thebillygoatgruff @thebillygoatgr1 said: “No wonder their fries taste terrible. Those imported potatoes must be loaded with preservatives.”

Some argued that the restaurant imports potatoes despite existing large-scale production in the country, which leaves farmers with produce to rot away.

Erick Karani @KaraniKaburu posed: “Yet potatoes are rotting in Kinangop. Can’t they promote the local farmers?”

Austin Oduor Otieno @austinoduor24 wondered: “There are no potatoes in Kenya?”

Francis Macharia @Francis09576687 said: “Farmers in Kinangop, Nyandarua, and Rift Valley are struggling to find a market for their potatoes. People should boycott these franchises until they stop importing potatoes.”

Further fueling the anger was an offer by KFC that customers will be offered swap options with items such as chicken, coleslaw, buns, soda, and ugali for combo meals.

Sharon @newbettersharon retorted: “I can eat Ugali at home.”

Marvin, WordSmith @MarvinGakunyi said: “KFC wameanza kuuza ugali juu there is a shortage of potatoes due to import delays. Same time in Nyandarua, potatoes are rotting, going to waste, or given to cows. Our leaders have been shouting Buy Kenya Build Kenya but here is where they draw the line as potatoes rot in Nyandarua.”