21/06/2018 14:58 BST | Updated 21/06/2018 15:41 BST

KFC Factory Scrambles To Secure Chicken Supplies Amid Gas Shortage

'FCK' all over again?

PA Wire/PA Images
KFC factory has said it has plans in place to deal with an impending shortage of carbon dioxide affecting UK chicken production.

A KFC supplier is battling to maintain supplies of fresh chicken as a shortage of carbon dioxide prompts warnings from poultry producers.

Moy Park, one of two big firms which supply the majority of KFC’s British restaurants, said it was aware of the depletion of the Europe-wide CO₂ supplies, a gas which is used to stun birds before they are slaughtered. 

In a statement sent to HuffPost UK, Moy Park said: “We are taking appropriate measures to mitigate any impact.”

KFC said it was not issuing a statement on the situation.

The British Poultry Council has warned the situation was “severe” and could soon become “critical”. In the worst-case scenario there is just one day’s supply of chicken left, the council said. 

In a briefing note, the council said factories responsible for up to 60% of chickens sold in the UK were impacted by the shortage.

It added that below-average supply of the gas had coincided with technical issues at a gas producer. “The result is a severe lack of CO2 available to food manufacturers,” it said.

“The worst case is one day’s supply and best case is two weeks’ supply. Without additional gas, even the best case is very limited and could quickly become critical,” the council added.

An inability to slaughter chickens could now lead to oversupply at farms.

2 Sisters Food Group, the other big supplier of fresh chicken to KFC and others did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Supermarket Tesco said it had no availability problems at the moment. The other Big Four grocery stores, and the Nando’s chicken chain, did not respond to a request for comment.

The British Soft Drinks Association said on Wednesday that it was concerned the CO₂ shortage would lead to issues in the production of beers, fizzy water and soft drinks.

Heineken, one of the UK’s biggest producers of alcohol, said it was working with its customers to “minimise disruption”.

The Wetherspoon’s pub chain said it expected supply chain problems in the coming days. The situation has been exacerbated by spiking demand due to warm temperatures and the ongoing 2018 World Cup.

The government said it was liaising with industry on the problem.

A spokesperson said: “The Government is aware that there are reports of a CO₂ shortage affecting the food and drink sector, and that industry is working to find a solution.

“Whilst this is an issue for industry, the Government is in contact with the relevant companies and trade associations, including those within the food and drink sector and main CO₂ suppliers.”

Earlier this week, KFC won the advertising equivalent of an Oscar for its apology to customers after separate supply chain issues earlier this year.

Hundreds of the chain’s stores were forced to close in February after a botched change in distribution partner.

Its apology, which won a gold Cannes lion award, adopted the company’s three letter logo to read “FCK”.