Customers unfazed by KFC price increase

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Customers stand in line at KFC, Independence Square, Port of Spain. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

AS members of the public took to social media to discuss the increase in KFC prices, Prestige Holdings Ltd (PHL) CEO Simon Hardy, in a phone interview with Newsday, described the increase as “relatively small in scale.”

PHL is the parent company of KFC’s local franchise.

Hardy said it is just $1-$2 on some meals, which translates to a three-five per cent increase. He denied claims that the company raised its prices for the second time this year.

“It’s fairly minimal in our view, and it’s been done largely to combat the increase in minimum wage that kicked in on January 1. We held our hands as long as we could until after the Carnival.”

He said the last time KFC increased its prices was in December, only on its bucket meal deal. He did not anticipate any backlash from the increase.

“Prices change from time to time. I don’t really consider this big news. I mean, I’m not seeing any stories every time the price of goods goes up in the supermarket, which, like I said, is relatively small in my view.”

The KFC Munch Pack – one piece of chicken and a side order – went up by $1 from $21.95 to $22.95 and the Super Deal –one piece of chicken, a side, a biscuit and a drink – went up from $28.95 to $29.95. The Big Deal –two pieces of chicken, a side and a drink – was $37.95 and is now $38.95.

The Boss Meal (three pieces of chicken, a side and a drink) went from $49.95 to $51.95. The Big Bite Box, which has one piece of chicken, a sandwich, a side, and a drink, went from $49.95 to $51.95.

Newsday visited KFC Independence Square on February 28 and spoke to customer Patrick Peters from Petit Valley.

Peters said he buys KFC twice a month and does not agree with the increase. He hopes KFC invests in customer service training for its staff and improves the cleanliness of the Independence Square branch.

“They need to bring people the self-service pump for ketchup, mustard and pepper, he said.

La Brea native Michelle Baptiste said she is not a regular customer and questioned whether raising prices due to the minimum wage will have a positive impact on employees.

Baptise said she would like KFC to standardise its quality across all franchises.

“You go to some outlets, it tastes good; you go to others, it doesn’t. They need to make sure all have the same taste.”

Baptiste said she will continue to make her monthly purchase despite the price increase but hopes that in the future if the company were to raise prices again, it would let the public know via social media and other methods it uses to advertise its meal deals.

Vegetarian Candice Bellsmythe from Arouca says she occasionally buys the company’s fries but will no longer support it.

“They barely want to give you condiments when you buy fries and when you ask for extra, it’s a set of attitude from workers. This is it for me; I’m not buying any more.”

A woman who gave her name only as Vanessa E said she was unaware of the price increase and only learned of it after Newsday asked.

“I really realised I only got five cents back. They just raised prices in December, I don’t think they should have raised it again.”

However, she said she would continue to support the franchise.

Last year, the Central Statistics Office said inflation decelerated to 0.7 per cent (year-on-year) in December 2023 from 4.7 per cent in July 2023 as price increases for food and non-food items eased.

The data also showed food inflation slowed to a negative 1.1 per cent in December 2023 from 8.6 per cent in July 2023, while core inflation eased to 1.2 per cent from 3.7 per cent over the same period.

For the financial year 2023, PHL recorded a profit before tax of $84 million compared to $54 million in 2022, an increase of 56 per cent.

According to its published consolidated audited financial results for the 12 months ending November 30, 2023, PHL’s revenue increased by 20 per cent to $1.3 billion from $1.1 billion in the previous year.

PHL generated $182 million in operating cash flow and repaid $22 million in debt, which reduced its total borrowings to $49 million, ending the year with $114 million in cash.

The report called the financial year one of investment and growth. The company’s chairman, Christian E Mouttet, said all brands under PHL saw significant operational and financial improvements and the group’s overall profitability of $84 million was a historical high.

PHL runs the KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Starbucks and TGI Fridays brands. At the end of the year, PHL had 134 restaurants, including five new units – four Starbucks outlets in Trinidad and Tobago and one Starbucks outlet in Guyana.

In 2024, the group opened two more Starbucks outlets in Guyana and new stores in Trinidad and Tobago.