Fast food chain KFC and potato lobby the National Potato Council (NPC) have offered an update on their plan to source potatoes locally.
The announcement follows the uproar that followed a shortage of fries at KFC outlets in Kenya after they ran out of potatoes, which they import as frozen cut fries from countries including South Africa and Egypt. A section of Kenyans even initiated a boycott of the franchise.
NPC stated that discussions had seen KFC agree to source potatoes of the Markie variety from farmers in Kenya.
It was among resolutions of a meeting involving the lobby last week. The council also also disclosed that it was in talks with a processor to put in place the necessary infrastructure to support the cutting and freezing of chips for processing by KFC.
While processing plants for frozen cut fries are few and far between in Kenya, they aren’t entirely non-existent as reported by some outlets.
Kenyan firms including Sereni Fries have ventured into production of frozen cut fries with one eye on fast food chains. Sereni’s customers include Chicken Inn Kenya and Naivas Supermarkets.
“It is an untapped market. Besides South Africa and Egypt, frozen chip factories in Africa are few and far between. There are a lot of new fast-food restaurants like KFC and Burger King setting up in Kenya. Many of them import from the Netherlands or Egypt. We think there is a gap in the market for locally produced frozen chips,” Sereni Fries Managing Director Humphrey Mburu stated in October 2021.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, January 19 during the 4th intergovernmental Forum for Agriculture, Agriculture CS Peter Munya had confirmed a deal with KFC.
“We have actually agreed with KFC to work together. They have identified the people they want to work with to start rolling out particular varieties that they require and they have partners who do it the way they want it done and I think there is a team already working on the rollout.”
“We have come up with a plan on how to grow those particular varieties that KFC requires and to ensure that we have varieties that please the palate of those interested in KFC chips,” he stated.
He, however, argued that the challenges with multi-national chains represented only one element of challenges facing the potato sector in Kenya.
“The real crisis in the potato sub-sector is supporting farmers to grow, supporting them to deal with the post-harvest losses and ensuring they reach the market. The post-harvest losses is where the middlemen come to exploit them. When there is overproduction, potatoes are highly perishable,” the CS asserted, highlighting the State’s priority areas.