Closer Look at Fried Chicken Crisis in UK (Part II)

As the people of the United Kingdom try to get over the fact that Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) branches have closed because they can’t serve their signature product, we take a closer look at what this actually means by sharing a post from

The logistics of fresh chicken are fiercely regimented, according to Owens. From egg to slaughter is around 35 days, with most chickens gassed, plucked, cut up into saleable pieces and distributed to temperature-controlled warehouses before being sent in refrigerated lorries to outlets. KFC sells around 676m pieces of chicken a year and buys 450,000 birds a week in the UK. An unspecified number are imported from other European countries, Brazil and Thailand, according to its website.

Much of the speculation for the cause of the disruption has centered on the fact that DHL has one centralized warehouse, in contrast to the previous contractor, Bidvest, a specialized food distributor that operated from six.

“It’s not necessarily a bad choice to have one location, but the scale is the challenge. If you are serving 900 sites from one warehouse it’s difficult,” said Malory Davies, the editor of Logistics Manager. “You would think if you team with a company you have worked with for years in Europe and pair it with the biggest logistics operator in the world it would be a safe bet. We are all agog to see what has actually gone wrong.”

For the moment, DHL remains tight-lipped about the fiasco. It apologized for the “unforeseen interruption” and said: “Whilst we are not the only party responsible for the supply chain to KFC, we do apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment caused to KFC and their customers by this incident.”

Richard Wilding, a professor of supply change management at the Cranfield School of Management, said the disruption revealed the extent to which companies have become compartmentalized.

Henry Ford may have raised the cows used to produce the leather on his vehicles’ seats, but modern companies are more like football teams, with specialized players in individual roles. “Companies are no longer in competition with other companies. It’s the supply chains that are directly competing,” he said.

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