- KFC has been the target of an international campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)—the world's largest animal rights organization, with more than 1.8 million members and supporters worldwide—since January 2003. PETA has a proven track record of creating successful consumer boycotts and winning its campaigns, including farmed-animal welfare campaigns against McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's and animal-testing, clothing, and other campaigns against General Motors, Exxon Mobile, Calvin Klein, Gillette, Benetton, and countless others.
- Since the launch of the campaign, more than 13,000 protests have occurred outside KFC restaurants worldwide (including more than 1,100 in just the last year) and thousands of anti-KFC articles have appeared in news publications throughout the world (including repeated stories in all the English-speaking world's most widely read dailies as well as on all the ABC, NBC, and CBS evening news programs). Celebrities across the board have endorsed the campaign—including The Rev. Al Sharpton, pop star Pink, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Black Eyed Peas, Bea Arthur, and the former president of the NAACP. In the last year alone more than 2 million people have visited KentuckyFriedCruelty.com, home to Pam Anderson's KFC exposé.
- Investigations at KFC supply farms and slaughterhouses worldwide have exposed hideous abuse. Workers at one KFC "Supplier of the Year" slaughterhouse in West Virginia were found spitting tobacco in live birds' eyes, tearing their heads off, and spray-painting their faces. Immediately following this investigation, the supplier's stock dropped by 10 percent, and Dan Rather told millions of Americans on CBS Evening News, "[T]here's no mistaking what [the video] depicts: cruelty to animals, chickens horribly mistreated before they're slaughtered for a fast-food chain." The United Kingdom's Sunday Mirror—one of the largest newspapers in the world, with nearly 5 million readers—detailed another investigation at one of KFC's largest U.K. suppliers, with a headline that screamed: "Distressed and Dying in a Cramped Shed … Nobody Does Chicken Like KFC."
- Consumers are horrified by the type of abuse found at KFC's suppliers: According to a Gallup poll, 96 percent of Americans care about animal welfare. According to the United Egg Producers, 75 percent of Americans will choose food products that are certified humane.
- Seven of the eight most recent sales quarters have shown zero or negative same-store sales growth for KFC. In 2003, Yum! told its investors that its goal was to have 8,000 KFC restaurants in the United States. Not only has it not met that goal, the number of KFCs in the U.S. has instead actually dropped from 5,552 in 2003 to 5,443 in 2006.
- As PETA's campaign continues, so does its momentum. Between 2006 and 2007, PETA's anti-KFC Activist Network grew by more than 30 percent.
- PETA would end its campaign if KFC adopted the March 2005 recommendations of its own Animal Welfare Advisory Council (AWAC) members. In 2005, five AWAC members sent KFC a list of the changes that it should make to eliminate the worst abuses of the animals it sells. These recommendations were changes that would satisfy both animal welfare expectations and Yum!'s bottom line—yet KFC ignored every one of them. Subsequently, five members of the AWAC have resigned out of frustration with the company, including Dr. Adele Douglass, who said the following to the Chicago Tribune in a front-page article: "[KFC] never had any meetings. They never asked for any advice, and then they touted to the press that they had this animal-welfare advisory committee. I felt like I was being used." Dr. Ian Duncan, another former advisor, told the Guelph Mercury that "[p]rogress was extremely slow, which is why I resigned. It was always going to be happening later. They just put off actually creating standards. … I suspect that upper management didn't really think that animal welfare was important."
- The changes recommended by the AWAC would require capital investments by KFC's suppliers over a period of several years—and those investments would result in a positive return in as little as 18 months. KFC would only minimally absorb the initial cost. KFC's COO said that it might cost KFC $50 million (roughly 2 cents more per meal), while other estimates are lower. Compared to the $1.1 billion that KFC spent on share repurchases and the $497 million that it spent on advertising in 2005 alone, this is a small price to pay to end PETA's campaign, protect KFC's brand image, and improve conditions for the roughly 1 billion birds KFC sells, who are often scalded to death and have their legs broken and their throats slit while they are still conscious.
- KFC's competitors recognize the financial advantage of taking animal welfare seriously. McDonald's, Burger King, Denny's, Hardee's, Carl's Jr., Popeye's, and others have made strides in animal welfare, especially where chickens are concerned, while KFC refuses to take the advice of its own advisors and does next to nothing to eliminate even the very worst abuses.
- Yum! Brands is not being honest with its shareholders or the public. In its 2008 proxy materials, the company touts its AWAC, even though it has completely ignored the AWAC's recommendations (the AWAC now consists of top executives of KFC's chicken suppliers). Its proxy statement also makes the company out to be a leader in animal welfare, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Help Move Yum! in the Right Direction!
You can help end the widespread and growing damage to KFC's brand image by voting in favor of PETA's shareholder resolution, which simply asks the company to produce a report on the feasibility of adopting the recommendations of its AWAC. Read the full resolution here.
Contact YumInvestors@peta.org for further information.