KFC on Friday sent a notice to the public saying it is facing “unforeseen shortages on chicken products” due to “significant supply challenges” at its sole supplier Jamaica Broilers, but the chicken producers say there is no shortage.
Mark Myers, managing director of Restaurants of Jamaica, the operators of KFC in the island, however told the Jamaica Observer on Friday that the situation with chicken supplies to his restaurants has been dire with the products “coming late, coming short or not coming at all”.
“We have a current situation with one of our premier products, which is wings. For instance, in Sav-la-Mar which is our number one wings market, we have had no wings in that restaurant since Wednesday,” he told Sunday Finance.
He said the KFC purchasing team has been having conversations with the Jamaica Broilers marketing team “almost every hour on the hour” about the situation.
“We've had a number of promises and schedules, and some of them come, some of them don't come, some of them come late. All up to 2 o'clock in the morning the other day we had restaurants receiving stock. I mean, that's not something we do normally... we don't accept deliveries at nights because of security issues. However, with our current situation we have been trying to accommodate as best we can.”
Myers said his team decided to put out the notice on Friday, the company's busiest day of the week, after telling the Jamaica Broilers that if the situation isn't resolved, they would have to let the public know what's happening.
“My team members are on the front line. The customers are coming in and not getting what they want and [are] starting to behave bad, and [so] we had to come out and level with the customers as to what's been going on. And this has been going on since about last weekend.”
On Friday during the interview for this story, Myers pointed out, “Up to this morning (Friday), we had over half of our restaurants opened with not enough products to get us through the day.”
Myers said the company has to get creative in moving products around from one restaurant to the other to alleviate the shortage.
“It's not just us enuh, this is a widespread thing. I understand there are some school canteens which have not been able to meet their demand [for chicken], I understand there are some supermarkets that haven't gotten any delivery in the last two days. Luckily for them, they have a million other things to sell. I only have one thing to sell, chicken.”
However in a short conversation on Friday, Christopher Levy, CEO of Jamaica Broilers told Sunday Finance, “Chicken is not short, the truck is on the road late. We are making a systems change and the truck is two hours late.” However, when Myers was told this he retorted, “No, 2'oclock in the morning is not two hours late,” pointing to deliveries his team received at that time on Wednesday morning.
“We monitor our inventories with [Jamaica Broilers]. Our inventories are at an all-time low now. I don't know exactly what the problem is, but there is a problem and it is affecting us and affecting our consumers,” he continued. “We are aware, belatedly, that they are going through some system change and that's what they are saying is causing the challenges. If there is no shortage, that's great, but its not getting to the market, it's not getting to us, it's not getting to the supermarkets.”
Jamaica Broilers for its part sent out a notice late Friday, reaffirming its CEO's stance that chicken is not in short supply. In the release, Jamaica Broilers said it is “upgrading its systems in order to offer even better service to its customers and that has regrettably caused some temporary dislocation resulting in some customers receiving reduced quantities of its products”.
But for Myers, “What is manifesting itself right now is shortage of wings. We are crossing fingers and toes that we don't have any more problems.”
“We are already scheduled to receive products on Sunday which is usually a non-delivery day, to try and accommodate the problem that Jamaica Broilers is having.”