Hundreds of KFC outlets remained shut in Britain on Wednesday due to a supply crisis, leaving fans craving a fix of deep-fried chicken.
The shortages, which are expected to last all week in some parts of Britain, have prompted online mockery and disbelief aimed at the US fast-food giant.
“So @KFC have run out of chicken. This is how the apocalypse starts,” wrote Twitter user @jonevans78, while @Brad_Langford said: “How will the nation cope?”
Others, like meat substitute maker Quorn, spotted an opportunity, with the company tweeting its offer of “Quorn Crispy Nuggets for a meat-free alternative”.
KFC on Wednesday said about 450 of its 900 outlets remained closed after “operational issues” with new German delivery supplier DHL left them without poultry supplies.
There were reports of desperate KFC employees taking the initiative and buying chicken themselves, while the Daily Mail reported that crates of undelivered chicken at a DHL depot would have to be destroyed.
“Some chickens have now crossed the road,” the company said in a statement on Twitter, providing devotees with a link to a list of restaurants that are open.
“Each day more deliveries are being made,” a spokesman said late on Tuesday.
“However, we expect the disruption to some restaurants to continue over the remainder of the week, meaning some will be closed and others operating with a reduced menu or shortened hours.”
– ‘Bird-brained’ –
The crisis erupted over the weekend when KFC switched its delivery contract to DHL from South African-owned supplier Bidvest.
“We’ve brought a new delivery partner onboard, but they’ve had a couple of teething problems — getting fresh chicken out to 900 restaurants across the country is pretty complex,” KFC said.
“We know that this might have inconvenienced some of you over the last few days, and disappointed you when you wanted your fried chicken fix,” the company added.
The GMB trade union said earlier that the closures were the result of KFC’s “bird-brained” decision to switch supplier, saying it had caused 255 redundancies and the closure of a Bidvest depot.
“We tried to warn KFC this decision would have consequences — well now the chickens are coming home to roost,” GMB’s national officer Mick Rix wrote.
“Bidvest are specialists — a food distribution firm with years of experience; DHL are scratching around for any work they can get to undercut them,” he said.
With some customers apparently suffering withdrawal symptoms, one London police department tweeted: “Please do not contact us about the #KFCcrisis — it is not a police matter if your favourite eatery is not serving the menu that you desire.”
DHL’s managing director of retail, John Boulter, said the delivery firm was working to “return to normal service levels as soon as possible.
“The reasons for this unforeseen interruption of this complex service are being worked on,” he added, although he did not give the exact reason for the problem.
“We are committed to step-by-step improvements to allow KFC to reopen its stores over the coming days.”