How Subway and other operators are tackling food shortages

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As KFC is forced to offer a smaller menu due to chicken shortages, fast food operators are floating wild solutions to the crisis.

Subway is considering ditching trucks and using planes for food deliveries as manufacturers and supply chains experience severe disruptions amid soaring Covid cases.

The sandwich chain revealed it may have to turn to airfreight to ensure its 1450 stores nationally are sufficiently stocked with food.

It comes as a crucial supplier of chicken to McDonald’s and KFC revealed severe staff shortages are resulting in the production of some items being paused and a decrease in manufacturing goods overall.

Subway acting country director Scott Buckman said the use of planes to bring in food was a “real option”.

“It’s not an ideal solution, it’s not something we have jumped to do yet, but it’s a thing we are considering,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

“If we find there is a supply issue in one state and excess supply in another state, a solution would be to get the excess on a plane and fly it over there to address that.”

However, he warned supply issues could continue for a “couple of months” as cases skyrocket around the country, while it had also been forced to close some stores temporarily due to staff shortages.

KFC and McDonald’s supplier Ingham’s has also warned it does not know when the disruption will end, with analysts predicting the issue will add up to $100 million in losses for the company.

As a result KFC has been forced to offer a smaller menu at some restaurants as it faces supply shortages on chicken.

Signs have popped up in some stores declaring that customer’s “favourites” might not be available.

McDonald’s also told some restaurants across Australia had to cut their operating hours “due to staff isolation requirements” but their menu had not been impacted.

Meanwhile, the owner of Red Rooster and Oporto told that their supply chain was “currently experiencing pressures unlike anything we have experienced before” but are still offering a full menu.

“Our supply partners have gone above and beyond to assist us in achieving relatively uninterrupted supply to date, but we are forever mindful that the situation is not easy and that it can change at any time,” said the spokeswoman for Craveable Brands, which owns the two fast food chains.

For chicken chain Chargill Charlie’s, which has stores in Sydney and Melbourne, has been forced to take items off the menu temporarily like chicken schnitzel.

Whole chickens and chicken breasts have been particularly hard to stock, while 300 out of its 800 staff have been struck down with the virus or are isolating as close contacts, the chain revealed.

Saul Sher, owner of Chargrill Charlie’s, said it was the first time since the store opened in 1989 that their chicken supplier called to advise them all deliveries had been cancelled.

As a result they have had to move chickens between stores to ensure they didn’t fully run out and use smaller suppliers.

“It’s just a continual battle of basically what is coming today and what is not,” Mr Sher told the Australian Financial Review.

Industry bodies have called for the relaxation of isolation rules to be extended to critical food industries, alongside emergency support for businesses that are struggling to open their doors,


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