KFC South Africa has embarked on an initiative to change the quick service restaurant industry and the way brands deal with their surplus food in restaurants. This programme aims to reduce the volume of food dumped in landfills while combating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse emissions associated with food waste. A meal without protein is incomplete and is a harsh reality for millions of South Africans.
The Harvest programme sees just under 200 KFC restaurants repurposing what they do with surplus chicken and getting it to people that need it most. The most food insecure, are often the poorest, who do not have sufficient access to quality food and more importantly do not have access to protein.
Surplus food is defined by KFC as food that is perfectly fit and safe for human consumption but is surplus in nature due to the standards and procedures that exist within our restaurants due to strict internal hold times. If cooked chicken has reached the internal holding time for sale to customer’s, we then remove the chicken and will repurpose it into the Harvest programme.
Food wastage is not just an issue in Africa, but a global problem and the numbers are startling. According to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), currently 1.6 billion tons of food, worth 1.2 trillion dollars is thrown away or lost annually and could rise by almost a third by 2030, resulting in two billion tonnes binned.
A typical “low quality” meal consists of mostly mealie-meal, bread or rice, with very little animal protein or vegetables to provide nutrients. In South Africa around 90% of overall waste is disposed off in landfills where it leads to the production of methane gas and carbon dioxide. [source: wwf.co.za and foodsecurity.ac.za]
Through the partnership with Food Forward South Africa, participating restaurants distribute frozen surplus chicken to Food Forward who then give it to identified non-profit beneficiaries.
Frozen surplus chicken is distributed using KFC’s transport partner Digistics to Food Forward depots on weekly pick up schedules and then their beneficiaries collect the food and prepare nutrient-rich meals for people in need. In addition to the surplus frozen chicken in restaurants, KFC repurposes additional food & ingredients (kidney beans, tortillas, relish & rice) as part of the donation to complete their meals.
To date since 2015, KFC has donated approximately 326 058 kgs of food, that has been converted into an excess of one million meals.
The environmental impact of this tonnage of surplus food has resulted in approximately 221 tonnes of Co2 and 9 700 tonnes of Methane (Ch4) not being produced in landfills. Both gasses have a serious impact on the environment; in air quality, soil degradation and water quality.
“In 2015 we amended our business process to accommodate the surplus food programme which was key to ensuring the success of the programme whilst maintaining our rigorous internal food safety procedures in restaurants.” says Thabisa Mkhwanazi, Public Affairs Director at KFC Africa. “We are so proud of the way our team members have immersed themselves in the spirit of championing the change by becoming part of the solution to reduce food waste in our business and in landfill while improving the well-being for most South Africans benefiting from this programme,” she adds.
Wayne Du Plessis from Food Forward comments “We are excited about growing the partnership with KFC through their Harvest programme. It will allow us to increase access to edible nutritious food, including protein sources, to those who need it. KFC are a long-standing and valued partner of Food Forward SA and have made it their priority to address food insecurity at scale across South Africa.”
Thabisa concludes “At KFC we believe by re-purposing and redirecting surplus food to those in need will make a tremendous impact,” she concludes.
Protein is the building block of life, it makes us who we are, and gives us the energy to move, think, dream and explore. We believe in the power of protein and that every meal deserves it.