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Faith Nyasuguta

Ten years after International fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) began operations in Kenya, it has announced plans to start sourcing potatoes from Kenyan farmers.

Speaking to a local media outlet, KFC East Africa market’s chief executive officer Jacques Theunissen said the franchise would still lay emphasis on high-quality potatoes while sourcing the produce locally.

“Although, we currently import our French fries, there is an opportunity to source the potatoes from a local supplier that meets the global KFC quality and safety specifications in the near future,” he said via an e-mail.

For a decade now, KFC has been importing potatoes from Egypt , indicating that there’s no Kenyan supplier who trades large quantities of pre-cut sliced blanched frozen potatoes.

In an interview with Kenya’s Business Daily,  Theunissen said Kenyan farmers were yet to undergo training on producing potatoes that meet the franchise’s standards.

“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,” he said.

However, the KFC East Africa chief said the business sources other food ingredients and raw materials from the Kenyan market. These include fresh vegetables, bread buns, packaging, flour and ice cream.

“At KFC Kenya, we work with a number of local Kenyan suppliers to serve our customers locally-sourced produce and ingredients in our restaurants,” CEO Jacques Theunissen said.

Meals at KFC /Courtesy/

Early Tuesday, the fast-food chain was on the receiving end on social media after reports circulated that it was sourcing its potatoes externally despite a huge supply in the nation.

The hashtag “Boycott KFC” was among Twitter’s top  trends, with a huge chunk of the at least 8,000 tweets sent out asking for KFC to relook into its potato acquisition policy.

Kenyans decried KFC’s potatoes importation

“Our customers can be assured that we will continue to serve them the same, great tasting products that they have come to love, every time,” Theunissen responded.

Theunissen said the potato shortage KFC experienced in Kenya would be resolved soonest possible, indicating that the scarcity of the produce had been occasioned by the Covid-19 crisis.

“It has to do with delays in shipping lines due to the Covid-19 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,” he added.

The KFC potato shortage comes amid a struggle with an oversupply of the produce in Kenya.

According to the National Potato Council of Kenya CEO Wachira Kaguongo, Kenya produces at least 62 varieties of potatoes that can meet KFC’s demands.

Currently, potatoes are Kenya’s second most important food crop, after maize. In 2021, the quantity of potatoes produced in the nation dropped to 1.9 million bags from two million bags in 2019, official data shows.


The demand for potatoes in fast-food joints jumped after the easing of the social distancing rules, peaking in December as Kenyans went for eat outs with friends and families.

KFC is an American fast-food restaurant chain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky that specializes in fried chicken.

Currently, it is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s, with 22,621 locations globally in 150 countries as of December 2019.

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Faith Nyasuguta