Sustainability Lesson from KFC’s ‘Potato Door’ Scandal

Ideas & Debate

Sustainability Lesson from KFC’s ‘Potato Door’ Scandal


A farmer harvesting potatoes in farmland. PHOTO FILE | NMG

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Summary

  • In the case of KFC Kenya, unfortunately, the company ended up with a lot of eggs and breadcrumbs on its face as a global supply chain crisis revealed a local business policy of importing basic commodities like potatoes, in an agriculture-based economy.

I am a breeder of trees and sheep. Now remember I am a city dweller who takes up farming as a hobby so sure enough I have to look a little fancy if I go to the farm because, well, you would have to be a woman city ​​dweller to understand what I’m talking about.

So, in 2013, I went to one of Kenya’s favorite shoe store chains and bought some trendy rubber boots. Not the horrific black, industrial-strength kind, ready for Armageddon, but a really nice pair of cheetah prints.

I also bought a zebra print. This expensive indulgence for double shoes grew out of the frustration that every time I liked something and went to buy another pair, there were always out-of-stock items. Or it wouldn’t be there in my size.

Fast forward to 2021. I have been to this chain’s Yaya, Junction Mall, and Cedar Mall Nanyuki branches on various occasions looking for one shoe or another. The type I wanted was out of stock or was not available in my size.

I’m clearly a sucker for pain, but the truth is this chain has good prices and good quality shoes when you finally find them. I always ask different store managers why this happens all the time.

The constant response is that the head office knows and there is nothing the store manager can do about it. By the way, I never saw the animal print rubber boots again, so my indulgence was totally justified.

I remembered this story from last week‘s scandal that someone aptly called the “potato door”. KFC, the fried chicken franchise, was running out of crisps. Fleas! You could not have missed the big uproar around how a multinational company ran out of crisps because it had not received its regular supply imported from Egypt.

What do KFC and this shoe chain (also a multinational for that matter), as well as many other companies have in common? A supply chain for their products. Whether you produce restaurant food or footwear, the underlying product is made with locally sourced, imported inputs, or a combination of both.

Your supply chain manager works closely with the sales team as they know the fastest items which then need to be stocked in abundance, with purchases of raw materials in advance when potential disruptions are anticipated. .

Such potential disruptions can be caused by a shortage of shipping containers, local political upheavals that can lead to logistical problems, or the chance in a million that a huge tanker will get stuck in the middle of the Suez Canal and cause the greatest chaos. of the maritime industry in recent history.

If products are 100 percent made locally, having the distribution team monitor which storage units (SKUs) need to be constantly replaced is a basic kindergarten level performance indicator for the distribution manager. of a chain of shoe stores.

The biggest problem here is what should the respective local councils have done (if they exist)? Ensure that these companies operate sustainable businesses.

For the board of directors, sustainability should mean that not only company profits allow the company to exist for the longer term, but that those profits must be generated responsibly.

This would include ensuring that raw material suppliers do not produce in an abusive manner, such as child labor, and that they are paid fairly for their product or that the environment of the communities in which the company operates is not. not degraded by emissions.

This should also include ensuring that the company’s own employees work in a safe environment and are paid fairly.

In the case of KFC Kenya, unfortunately, the company ended up with a lot of eggs and breadcrumbs on its face as a global supply chain crisis revealed a local business policy of importing basic commodities like potatoes, in an agriculture-based economy.

Never spoil a crisis, is what some experts have said. A sustainable way out of that potato salad from a snafu will be to start conversations about how this raw material can potentially be grown in a country that has been producing standard European Union horticultural crops for decades.

If there is a local council, a constant nagging discussion at the council meeting should be: what do we do to get into the hearts (other than in a way that clogs the arteries with cholesterol) and the minds of the community in which we operate, other than just taking their money?

How can we leave Kenya in a better place than when we found it when we entered this market?

For the shoe maker table, if it exists, feel free to walk around your retail stores and try to buy your own products. Let me know about your (frustrating) experience when you’re done.

[email protected] Twitter: @carolmusyoka


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