China is not happy with KFC. Reason? A toy in a family meal box

KFC is at the centre of a storm in China for encouraging food wastage with a new promotional activity. This is what happened.

 |  3-minute read |   13-01-2022
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KFC is celebrating the 35th anniversary of opening its first outlet in mainland China. And so, the fast food company decided to launch a new promotional activity to celebrate the anniversary.

KFC China teamed up with famous Chinese toy-maker Pop Mart to make limited edition Dimoo toys with the franchise’s theme to go along with its family meal.

kfc-647_011322053634.jpgKFC China launched promotional limited edition Dimoo toy family meals. Photo: Weibo/South China Morning Post

Except, these toys are limited and come in ‘blind boxes’, meaning, you will be lucky to find one in your box. Moreover, the immensely popular toys come in a set of different themes. So, collectors in China are going crazy, trying to collect the full line.

To collect the full line of toys, one needs to buy at least 6 boxes of the family meal. And the chance of getting a toy in a meal is 1:72.  

Customers have gone so crazy that one anonymous toy lover spent US $1,650 or over Rs 1,21,000 to buy more than 100 family meals at once to collect the full line of toys.

The price for these toys, which come in a nearly US $15 family meal box has soared in the second-hand market as well. A full line of these toys are even being sold for over US $200 in second-hand markets. 

KFC FACES BACKLASH OVER PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITY

However, the promotional activity, though quite popular among the masses, has not impressed several others in China. A state-affiliated body, China Consumers Association, hit out at KFC for promoting over-consumption and food wastage, which is illegal in China.

CCA said that KFC aroused panic buying among consumers and it has caused ‘widespread social concern’.

“‘Marketing’ means to stimulate consumption, which can easily lead to impulsive consumption of consumers in order to obtain limited-edition blind boxes, and cause unnecessary food waste due to excessive purchases,” CCA said in a statement.

Some Chinese people have even resorted to setting up ‘help-eating’ services on social media platforms, to hand over the food to someone else and take only the toy.

CCA’s statement prompted Shanghai’s market regulator to issue a range of measures for businesses on models such as ‘blind boxes’, Global Times, a nationalist China news portal, reported.

CHINA AGAINST FOOD WASTAGE

China is sensitive when it comes to food wastage. In August 2020, the Chinese government stepped up measures to prevent food wastage. Under this, binge-eating on social media, or ordering more than what one can finish at a restaurant, all came under the fire of the law.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2020 had said that the amount of food the citizens were wasting was ‘shocking and distressing’. Following this development, there were some reports that speculated whether the country was facing food shortage or was going to face food shortage in the future, given the pandemic impact as well.

However, the Chinese government refuted the claims.

China is obsessed with KFC. The American fast food giant has the most number of outlets in China compared to any other country. On top of that, Pop Mart's toys and the character of Dimoo is also especially popular among Chinese citizens. Given this combination, it was a no-brainer that the limited edition family meals would become immensely popular. 

But of course, limited edition toys that only come with food is perhaps s a bad idea. Well, guess in this case, Beijing is right. Businesses shouldn’t encourage over-consumption, and definitely shouldn’t act as a catalyst for food wastage.

Writer

Amrutha Pagad Amrutha Pagad @amrutha_pagad

Amrutha loves writing on Humour, Politics, Environment and Gender. She is a Senior Sub editor at DailyO.

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