KFC UK & Ireland is set to give its menu a dramatic makeover after unveiling a calorie reduction commitment to remove 20% of calories per serving by 2025.
The bold commitment is the latest phase of KFC’s long-term nutrition strategy, which is focused on creating new lighter meals, developing new recipes to improve existing dishes and making it easier for customers to make lighter choices.
It plans to make recipe improvements through a combination of reformulation and innovative new dishes and recipes for existing meals.
KFC has pledged to introduce more lunch and dinner dishes containing less than 600 calories by 2020, in line with Public Health England’s latest campaign, which encourages people to aim for 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner, plus balanced choices in-between.
Before that, KFC will be making changes to its existing “healthy” sides in a bid to increase choice, improve taste and add more options to help customers towards their five a day.
Additionally, as an alternative to its famous fried chicken, KFC plans to launch a new vegetarian option, which will be tested with customers later this year.
From this week, KFC has also committed that it will only launch low or zero calorie carbonated soft drinks.
Other measures include testing out a series of initiatives to make it easier for customers to choose the lighter options. Working with a number of partners, KFC will trial a behavioural change programme to ‘nudge’ consumers towards lighter choices.
Trials will focus on raising awareness and understanding of nutritional information and include pricing tests and programmes to encourage customers to switch to healthier sides as an alternative to fries.
Victoria Robertson, head of food innovation at KFC UK & Ireland, said: “We know people are more passionate than ever about eating well, and we face a big challenge in shifting their perceptions of what we offer. We’ve done it before, though – the success of our Riceboxes has shown that our fans will go for lighter options from us.
“That said, we know any new menu and recipe changes will have to be just as tasty as today – our fans absolutely love our Original Recipe chicken, and we won’t be changing the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. This is about providing choice, and offering delicious, signature KFC taste that just happens to be lighter.”
Many companies in the food and drink industry, from fast food to traditional restaurants, are being scrutinised for the nutritional content of their meals. KFC said that as an industry leader and world famous brand, it “bears a responsibility” to help move the sector forwards.
KFC’s vow to remove calories from its menu has been welcomed by Public Health England. Chief nutritionist Dr. Alison Tedstone said: “Eating out is a big part of our lives, so it is encouraging to see KFC’s leadership in this space. We hope this announcement will encourage other eating out of home companies to commit to, and make significant reductions in calories to help us all consume healthier products when eating out.”
KFC claims it has been working to improve its commitment to nutrition for a number of years. In 2011 it was the first company in its sector to sign up to the Department of Health Responsibility Deal on kcals, while it first introduced sub-500 calorie meals in 2003.
Artificial trans fats were eliminated from KFC’s menu in 2007, while palm oil was replaced with rapeseed oil three years ago. Trials of healthier non-fried dishes, including Brazer in 2011, BBQ Rancher in 2012 and Pulled Chicken in 2015 have been delivered.
Meanwhile, a national trial of healthier, reduced-fat, thicker cut fries is underway.