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  • Supply Chain Disruption- A Fried Chicken Crisis Across the UK

    As a top-rated blog addressing global developments in supply chain management and technology, we have often highlighted incidents of supply chain disruption. Such developments have included natural disasters, product supply shortfalls, internal business process breakdowns and others. This week, however, we were taken back with a disruption event occurring across the United Kingdom.

    Reports indicate that fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken was forced to temporarily close most of its UK outlets after widespread shortages of chicken product occurred. Upwards of 550 outlets were impacted, forcing British media to coin the headline, “KFC Crisis” and some consumers to actually call their local emergency services office to complain of a chicken food shortage.

    According to local published reports, the fast-food chain has blamed the current shortage squarely in the laps of global logistics provider DHL, which recently took-on the new food replenishment delivery contract from a previous UK-based specialty food logistics provider. DHL had announced last November that it would assume the supply and distribution of food products, along with other restaurant items for KFC outlets across the UK when the former contract expired on February 13. Compounding this crisis are indications that upwards of 95 percent of UK outlets are run by franchisees.

    Apparently, the shortage is noted as so severe, that KFC is reluctant to indicate when restaurant operations will return to normalcy. Instead, there are statements that both KFC and DHL teams are working diligently to resolve the crisis with some outlets expected to have chicken supply this week.

    KFC originally tried to make light of the problem, but that seemed to backfire in that some British consumers take their fried chicken experiences rather seriously. For its part, DHL has apologized for the “inconvenience and disappointment caused to KFC and their customers.”

    As with all such incidents, a lot of learning will be garnered regarding successfully changing a key logistics and product replenishment provider. With restaurant franchisees as key stakeholder to the changeover decision,that learning will obviously include the monetary implications of the changeover, as compared to the original contract costs.

    Once again, in the end, logistics and supply chain capabilities do matter in customer fulfillment.


    © Copyright 2018. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


    1. Hello Everyone,

      A further update regarding the KFC chicken supply crisis across the United Kingdom.

      A report from the BBC indicates that late this week, almost all of the 900 KFC outlets in the UK and Ireland are now open and operating. However, ongoing food distribution challenges are forcing some restaurants to limit menu choices.

      One of the current ongoing shortages is that of the gravy that is applied to the chicken. That has motivated consumers to again turn to Twitter to voice frustrations, including what is good chicken without the gravy.

      Meanwhile KFC continues to apologize for the ongoing distribution snafu. Behind the scenes, a big finger is pointed toward DHL. The latter took on the KFC food distribution service contract under the guys of utilizing a single national distribution center, whereas the prior specialty food logistics provider operated among six different centers across the UK and Ireland.

      Bob Ferrari

    2. Hello Everyone,

      A new development to highlight concerning the KFC Chicken distribution snafu across the United Kingdom.

      KFC has now elected to resume the services of former food distributor Bidvest Logistics for upwards of one-third of KFC’s 900 existing restaurants across the country.

      In a statement to publication The Guardian, KFC indicated:
      Our focus remains on ensuring our customers can enjoy our chicken without further disruption. With that in-mind, the decision has been taken in conjunction with QSL and DHL to revert the distribution contract for up to 350 of our restaurants in the north of the UK back to Bidvest Logistics.

      Perhaps there has indeed been some valuable learning regarding this episode.

      Bob Ferrari

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