Category Archives: KFC

“Smart” KFC in Beijing Is Not Quite Smart Enough

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No one is paying any attention to the “smart” machine at the left of the photo. (Amy Hawkins, The Guardian)

Even in China, where lack of privacy is pretty much taken for granted, KFC is running into some resistance its efforts to employ a machine able to recognize facial characteristics to pre-select food choices for customers before they have a chance to choose for themselves.

The Guardian’s Amy Hawkins “test-drove” the machine at a KFC in Beijing’s financial district. Though the store was busy, she was the only customer interested in ordering through the machine, which was created by Baidu, the search engine company often called “China’s Google.”

Maybe the machine is too closely oriented to Oriental features to be able to make sense of Amy’s Western ones. Maybe that’s why it was a decade off on her age. Maybe that had something to do with why she was offered the same thing – a crispy chicken hamburger – as the 20-something male who demonstrated the machine to her.

If you don’t like the machine’s recommendation, you can click through an assortment of other food options until you find what you want, they pay for your order through your smart phone and pick up your food at the counter.

The device, in what’s being billed as “China’s first smart restaurant,” is going to need to get a good deal smarter if KFC follows through on its plan to install them in the company’s 5,000-plus stores across China.

A press release from Baidu said that “a male customer in his early 20s” would be offered “a set meal of crispy chicken hamburger, roasted chicken wings and [a] coke”, while “a female customer in her 50s” would get a recommendation of “porridge and soybean milk for breakfast.” Fortunately, most Chinese would be too polite to bash the machine’s brain if it offered the “porridge and soybean milk” option to a lady in her 20’s!

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Anticipate More Options For Cheese On Sandwiches

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The parent of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell has entered into a marketing agreement with The National Dairy Checkoff, a mandatory program by which milk producers ‘contribute’ to a fund used to promote greater use of dairy products. Yum! Brands and Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), the company that manages the checkoff program, see their joint venture as an opportunity to “raise U.S. Dairy’s profile” globally, according to an article on DeliMarketNews.com.

Working to get more cheese on chicken sandwiches is a great opportunity to grow sales,” said Paul Rovey, the Arizona dairy farmer who is chair of DMI. “Beyond cheese, this partnership also can help create products that grow milk and milk-based drink sales, along with ice cream and other dessert-based items.”

In addition to adding U.S.-produced cheese to sandwiches in global markets, the pilot program is also looking to explore innovative new strategies, such as introducing cheese sauces in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The partnership’s pilot program involves promoting U.S. dairy products through offerings at KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants. Yum! Brands, which boasts nearly 43,000 restaurants in 135 countries and territories, is a global leader in pizza, chicken, and Mexican-style restaurant food categories, and is poised to raise U.S. dairy’s profile..

A pilot program in Asia Pacific is also underway looking to add U.S. dairy products in some 2,500 Pizza Hut restaurants in 15 countries. The program is looking to maximize the profile of U.S. cheese in menu items. Stuffed-crust pizzas, for example, use string cheese sourced entirely from the U.S, according to Enrique Ramirez, Chief Financial and Strategic Officer for Pizza Hut, and innovative menu offerings like this can significantly increase U.S. dairy sales abroad. 

U.S. dairy farmers, importers and DMI have brought us tremendous value in dairy expertise and innovation,” said Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands. “I’m incredibly excited about taking this relationship to international markets.”

The pilot programs’ approach is based on the successful model, employed by the partnership through Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the U.S, which focused on on-site Checkoff employees working with the food service companies to develop dairy-friendly menu items like Pizza Hut’s Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza and Taco Bell’s Quesalupa.

Coming Election Cited For Slower Fast Food Sales

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A growing number of restaurant chain executives says consumer uncertainty about the upcoming election is negatively impacting sales in their stores. Some  chains, according to a recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News, have seen sharp sales drops in recent months.

Among the latest executives to blame the election was Greg Creed, Yum! Brands Inc. CEO. Yum owns and operates KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut stores across the U.S. and, to a lesser degree, abroad.

“It goes without saying that people are trying to decide who to choose and what the impact will be on the economy, and I think people are maybe just hunkering down a little bit,” he said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last Thursday.

Earlier this summer, The Wendy’s Co. CEO Todd Penegor also cited the uncertainty. “When a consumer is a little uncertain around their future and really trying to figure out what this election cycle really means to them, they’re not as apt to spend as freely as they might have even just a couple of quarters ago,” he said.

In August, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. CFO William Matt struck a similar chord. “What we also see is that there is a little more uncertainty with the consumer,” he said. “We’re not too sure what’s causing that, but our speculation would be, we think there is a rather unusual election going on and we think that unusual election is causing some uncertainty.”

Well, we (at FoodTradeTrends.com) know something else that is pulling fast-feeders sales down: The growing shifts, among consumers, for healthier fare, for organic foods, and for more nutritious foods.

We’ve reported on this before – particularly on how Millennials are opting for healthier foods and for eating at home as many as six, seven nights per week – and we will be reporting on it more in coming weeks.

We’ll also be watching restaurant sales, to see if they do go up after the election – regardless of who wins!

 

Don’t Eat This ANYWHERE: KFC-Scented Sunscreen

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Who comes up with these ideas?

In order to trade on the popularity of one of its two styles of fried chicken, KFC USA, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands (Yum! ??) recently gave away 3,000 bottles of Extra Crispy Sunscreen – SPF 30 with a fried chicken scent. (Or, as CBS News put it, “fowl-smelling.”)

Consumers snapped up the full production run within two hours of the product being announced on a KFC website, the company reported.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with our Extra Crispy Colonel campaign this summer, and the sunscreen idea seemed like a natural fit,” spokeswoman Kasey Mathes told USA Today.

The news site added that the campaign “dovetailed with KFC’s latest TV ad campaign featuring actor George Hamilton, noted for his deep, continuous suntan, as the Extra Crispy Colonel.”

Now, in that spirit, Mathes says, according to USA Today, “many fans around the country who claimed a bottle at a special web site can be living the ‘extra-crispy lifestyle’.”

Deli Market News reported that “KFC says more than 50 percent of Americans are oblivious to the difference and existence of two separate fried chicken recipes through the company – Original Recipe and Extra Crispy. Extra Crispy Chicken and Tenders are very crunchy and juicy, as well as cooked to a golden brown and hand-breaded,” the Deli news site said.

It promised to follow up, “as the public clucks out their answer,” to see if “chicken-smelling lotions be the next meat-induced craze to strike consumers.”

Given that The Associated Press has reported that samplers of the product around its hen house (er, newsroom) failed to detect a chicken aroma from the product, that isn’t likely. Which, all things considered, is probably a blessing!

KFC stressed in the final paragraph of its ‘extra-crispy’ web site that this sunscreen is NOT edible. The company hasn’t announced any plans to produce more of the product – no doubt a relief to the CBS presenter who declared the whole idea to be “offal”.