KATHMANDU, Dec 23: International fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has started importing chicken from Thailand.
KFC had tried to import chicken from India, according to government officials, and when this effort failed its fast depleting stock threatened to affect its operations. Import of chicken products from India is banned.
"The company brought in the new consignment of chicken from Thailand this week," an official of Devyani International Nepal, the operator of KFC in Nepal, said on condition of anonymity.
Anil Singh, animal technician at the Animal Quarantine Office at Tribhuvan International Airport, also confirmed that the company received around 5,008.67 kgs of chicken from C P Merchandising Corporation Limited of Thailand on Thursday.
“We were almost out of chicken stock. So, the new import has ensured smooth operations for now,” said the KFC official. However, he informed Republica that the supply would barely suffice for nine days. Unless the company made arrangements to get the supply from Thailand regularly, it would face difficulties soon, he added.
KFC, when it started its services in Nepal three years ago, had announced it would import most of the chicken from Brazil and the rest from Thailand, stating that locally available chicken did not meet its standards.
“The company was importing chicken from Brazil in the initial year. But our records suggest, it has been a long time since a chicken consignment entered via TIA from Brazil or any other country,” said Singh.
Singh´s statement suggests the company had gradually shifted its source and was probably sourcing chicken from India alone in recent years. However, such a practice by the company is regarded as foul play as the government has identified India as bird flu-prone and imposed a ban on the import of any poultry item from there since four years ago.
Farmers at Dharke in Dhading on December 15 took control of containers ferrying chicken illegally from Pune, India. The consignment belonged to KFC.
Following the action by the farmers, the government had instantly disposed of the import, and also sacked four senior quarantine officials in Birgunj who let the containers enter Nepal.
Devyani International Nepal has remained tight lipped over the matter so far. However, company insiders said KFC had been sourcing chicken from India since it suffered loss due to a month-long closure over a labor row in September.
Soon after the company resumed services in October, its country manager, Vishnu Reddy, resigned and since then nobody has been appointed to that post. Presently, KFC in India is looking after its management here.