It's 'Finger Licking' better at KFC with All-Australian Canola Oil

It’s ‘Finger Licking’ better at KFC with All-Australian Canola Oil | The Cultivator Spring 2021

IT’S ‘FINGER LICKING’ BETTER AT KFC with All-Australian Canola Oil

From farm to finger, Australia’s Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants, switched in 2012 from imported sustainable palm oil to 100 per cent Australian-grown high oleic canola oil, to cook their legendary ‘finger licking’ golden fried chicken and chips.

The face of the campaign was canola farmer, Sean Quigley from the central west New South Wales town of Manildra. He graced the nation’s television screens, telling viewers how important it was that KFC’s 700+ Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s) was leading the way in supporting Australian farmers, regional communities, and the health of its customers.

“If you ask me, I think the chicken is even tastier, but I’m probably a bit biased because we’ve grown the oil,” Mr Quigley chuckles in the ad, leaning on his farm gate surrounded by golden canola.

KFC Australia’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Michael Clark says a four-week television campaign, backed up in-restaurant promotions and packaging changes, highlighted the benefits of the switch to customers and marketed the provenance of locally grown canola oil.

“The move to high oleic canola oil was one of the biggest changes our restaurant made since coming to Australia more than 50 years ago. We wanted to ensure our messaging was authentic and true to the story, so we featured local growers and people from our restaurants.”

“Our campaign was golden, just like the canola! The switch to supporting Aussie growers is something we continue to be very proud of to this day,” Mr Clark said.

Almost a decade later, Mr Quigley is still growing canola which is crushed into high oleic canola oil by MSM Milling, in partnership with Manildra Group, in Manildra, New South Wales.

The high oleic oil has a different fatty acid profile to regular canola oil, ensuring a longer frying life and higher stability, making it a perfect fit for KFC Australia’s restaurants. It is a good news story for customers too, as the specialty oil is virtually trans-fat free and lower in saturated fat than palm oil, delivering healthier meals.

“It was important that we didn’t alter the taste of our key products, so choosing the right oil was essential. You don’t mess with the crown jewels!

The decision wasn’t made lightly; it was a four-year project with rigorous trials and testing to ensure we got it right.”

“Long term sustainable supply partners are how we operate, and we know that our partnership with MSM Milling is what will help KFC continue to create its world- famous Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Mr Clark said.

Each week, bucketloads of quality healthy, sustainable high oleic canola oil leave MSM Milling’s site, destined for hundreds of KFC restaurants nationally. 2022 will mark a decade of partnership, a milestone that is not lost on either business or the farmers.

“Australia is known for having the freshest produce and local growers are known for creating the highest quality food in the world. We are all about supporting local and using the freshest and highest quality ingredients in our meals. We want our food to taste the best it can, and to do this we need to have the best ingredients which are home-grown,” Mr Clark said.

MSM Milling Director Peter Mac Smith says the growth in the specialty oils market is attributable to KFC Australia leading the way for other QSR’s to follow suit.

“KFC’s switch to canola oil was the most exciting opportunity for winter oilseed crops since the introduction of canola in the late 1980’s, creating additional demand across Australia for the oilseed each year” he said.

KFC Australia has not looked back. The switch to healthier, sustainable canola oil has been a great success for hundreds of Australian farmers, adding the specialty canola to their crop rotation and benefiting from premiums paid by MSM Milling to grow the crop.

KFC and MSM Milling’s long-term partnership extends beyond the restaurants, with the two partnering for four ‘Mill 2 Mill’ charity bicycle rides between Manildra Group mills in Gunnedah, Manildra, Nowra, and Narrandera in regional New South Wales, over recent years to raise more than $300,000 for mental health assistance, breast cancer research, local schools as well as KFC’s Youth Foundation.

To date, KFC Youth Foundation has raised more than $5.1 million, which helps young Aussies thrive. With more than 90 per cent of their team members being under twenty-five, KFC Australia is passionate about playing its part in helping more young people beyond its restaurants.

“We’re one of the largest employers of young Aussies and our people tell us KFC is their first training school, their second family and the third place they can be themselves and feel truly supported away from the pressures of home and school,” Mr Clark said.

It is these shared benefits along the sustainable supply chain that makes the switch to high oleic canola oil such an outstanding success all-round, with wins for farmers, processors, customers, and consumers.