Ruth gave a brief background to the KFC business, outlining how the UK is its second largest market with 1,005 restaurants, only trailing behind the kings of fried chicken, the United States.
We heard that one of the key drivers within some of KFC’s decision-making is 'the right way forward'. Not to follow the pack, or take the easy option, but what is the right way forward?
For example, KFC has ambitious net zero targets coupled with a pledge to 100% supply of BCC (Better Chicken Commitment) chicken, with the latter directly increasing the difficulty of the former.
With the task of balancing the carbon books, along with the current economic challenges, there are definitely some tough decisions to make to maintain these ambitions.
With a global supply chain feeding into the UK and Ireland, Ruth spoke about some countries having resistance to BCC growing standards. But she went on to explain that most processors are now on board with the standards.
One challenge KFC is fully aware of is how it guarantees chicken produced around the world, but sold in British and Irish restaurants, will meet the same standards.
Although customer concern around sustainability is growing, animal welfare remains the top concern.
Antibiotic usage, daylight availability and stocking density were all areas of significant consumer interest, but KFC is leading the way in terms of bird welfare and transparency with yearly welfare reports available to all on its website.
This a clear example of where KFC is taking the right way forward, with honesty around its supply chain.
We were told about halal-only restaurants, where all produce sold is approved and certified as halal. These make up some 130 restaurants within the UK and Ireland, where KFC maintains ‘the right way’ mantra, sticking with its high welfare objectives.
Passionate about people
Another key area for KFC is people, the 27,000 members of staff who make up its ‘family’. KFC champions diversity and wellbeing while sticking to its mission of doing the right thing.
Ruth spoke of a partnership with UK Youth to create a programme called Hatch, which is designed to create more ways into work for young people. The plan is that this pathway will deliver half of its new recruits by 2030.
Healthy and sustainable food
So, the right way forward might not be easy or obvious, but it is clear to see KFC’s thinking. It wants to deliver healthier meals in a sustainable way while showing transparency to its consumers and the supply chain itself.
The removal of palm oil, use of sustainable soya and commitment to BCC shows how it reflects consumer concerns. It was clear to see that this is a business shaped around passionate people, determined to deliver the best for its own people, products, and places both within the domestic market and globally.
Now after all this talk of food, I’m hungry. Fried chicken anyone?