There is no doubt that food is a cornerstone of South African celebrations and forms part of our rich heritage as a country. And while the traditional potjie and a good old braai remain firm favourites, there is no doubt that the fast-food sector holds a significant place in our food-loving heritage.
In fact, fried chicken in particular has its place deep-seated in South African food heritage with the chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings being a firm favourite, whether zinger or dunked flavoured!
KFC’s heritage in South Africa is undeniable as one of the country’s leading quick service restaurant brands. It has placed first in the Sunday Times Top Brands fast food category since 2004 and was awarded overall favourite brand in 2017. Much of this success can be attributed to the brand’s ability to consistently serve its customers great tasting, “Finger Lickin’ Good” chicken, hand-breaded with the Colonel’s famous secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices! As one of the first fried chicken brands to grace the continent, KFC opened its first restaurant in Orange Grove, Johannesburg, in September 1971, after the CEO of our holding company visited the country and decided this was a great place to invest. And how right he was!
Fifty years later and our brand is truly integrated into South African culture, and has, over the years, partnered with some of the country’s favourite pantry staples on limited–edition products, including Mrs Balls Chutney for The Zinger Chutney Burger and more recently Tabasco Pepper Sauce for our limited-edition Spicy Chips offering. We are intentional about understanding the changing consumers’ preferences and our New Product Development team has their finger on the pulse to ensure we remain consistently ahead of the curve, whether working on the next tasty burger, testing a new flavour of our famous wings or dabbling with new recipes. Some of our innovations over the years range from the introduction of Masala Chicken in 2019, our Hot & Crispy range, as well as our Dunked range (a big fan favourite) to name a few.
Consumer preferences have undeniably changed significantly over the past half century, driven by factors such as digital acceleration. We have therefore spent the last 18 months with a significant emphasis on leveraging the benefits of digital technologies, with a view to consistently create new channels for connecting, and new ways to meet consumer satisfaction. Today, our customers now have the option to access their fried chicken favs on a few platforms including: KFC “Click & Collect”, the KFC SA mobile app, delivery through Uber Eats & Mr Delivery as well as KFC curbside collection. Through these channels, we have been able to continue serving our customers all their KFC favourites in a safe and convenient way. What’s more, we have recently launched both WhatsApp ordering, a first for any QSR in South Africa and KFC Delivery PLUS — ensuring even further digital acceleration, broadening our e-commerce reach and investing in new channels, which remains a strategic focus for us as we enhance customer experience.
For us, heritage means being part of the fabric of society, and we have entrenched ourselves into the South African communities that we serve. So, over the past 50 years, we have embedded the spirit of giving back into our brand. Through the KFC Add Hope Programme, we have played our part in tackling childhood hunger in South Africa together with our customers. The initiative provides over 30-million meals per year to over 150 000 children daily and supports more than 140 different NPOs.
Similarly, our Mini Cricket programme introduces children to the game of cricket while also teaching children the fundamentals of teamwork and leadership, paving a foundation for a successful professional cricketing career. Since the start of our sponsorship in 2009, the programme now hosts 126 000 young cricketers annually across South Africa, in a programme that attracts children from diverse social backgrounds, of all genders and races.
But most importantly, is that we are just as intentional about supporting our team members internally with initiatives such as the KFC Ikusasa Lethu scholarship, a programme launched in 2021 to provide access to quality education for deserving learners whose parents either work for a KFC restaurant or are part of KFC Add Hope network across South Africa.
We are driven by three key values internally: be your best self, make a difference and have fun. So today, we are not only celebrating 50 years of KFC in South Africa, but also — most importantly — we are celebrating our 12th secret ingredient … our people … the 35 000 people who drive our business and have made it what it is today.