Pandemic backup plans help KFC continue serving up chicken amid disruptions

KFC switched to serving frozen chicken and continued operating its 80 outlets islandwide without disruption. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - When Malaysia banned exports of fresh chicken on June 1, businesses that depend on the supply - such as some chicken rice stalls - had to stop temporarily or increase their prices, but not KFC Singapore.

The fast-food chain quickly switched to serving frozen chicken and continued operating its 80 outlets islandwide without disruption.

It was able to bring in more frozen chicken as it could tap backup plans that were put in place amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of its frozen chicken sources, including suppliers across Asia and even the United States, had already been secured from the end of last year.

"What the pandemic taught us is that you need backups, and backups of backups to sustain the business," said Ms Lynette Lee, general manager of KFC Singapore.

Still, she noted that the chain had not experienced supply disruptions of this scale in the past.

Before the ban, KFC used mainly fresh chicken from local suppliers which imported live chickens from Malaysia on a daily basis and then slaughtered them.

The chain would then marinate the chicken and send it to its stores, said Ms Lee, speaking to The Straits Times on Monday (July 4).

Malaysia, which introduced its chicken ban with the aim of stabilising production and prices, has partially lifted it, allowing Singapore to bring in live kampung and black chickens since mid-June.

But it is uncertain when the usual supplies of fresh meat will resume.

It is also celebrations as usual for KFC, which is marking its 45th anniversary in Singapore this week.

As part of the celebrations, there is a pop-up experience outside VivoCity mall that runs from July 6 to 10. Visitors will be able to win limited-edition KFC plush toys and food vouchers at claw machines, and take part in other activities in interactive zones.

The first 4,500 to visit the #MEANDMYKFC Installation will receive a free two-piece chicken voucher.

Islandwide, there will also be special weekly $4.50 deals at KFC outlets for the month of July.

KFC’s $5 value meals, its menu staple, remain among the lowest-priced meals offered by fast-food chains here.

"We'll manage prices based on market forces, but we want to keep it affordable for the customer," said Ms Lee, who added that the chain is prepared for future supply shocks, if any.

"But when fresh chickens come back, we and our suppliers are ready to switch back."

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