KFC faces a boycott in China over a promotion that saw one customer spend R25,000 on meals

Business Insider US

KFC's staff wait for customers at its restaurant in Beijing on October 9, 2013.
Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters
  • A Chinese consumer group is calling for a boycott of KFC.
  • KFC is giving away limited-edition toys with select meals as part of an anniversary promotion.
  • The organisation says the promotion encourages "irrational and excessive" food consumption.
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KFC is under scrutiny in China over the popularity of an anniversary promotion that allowed customers to collect limited-edition toys with their meals, Reuters reported.

The fried chicken chain partnered with Chinese toy maker Pop Mart to give away Dimoo toy dolls with select KFC orders in celebration of the brand's 35th anniversary of its first restaurant in China. The giveaway prompted a frenzy to collect the dolls, with at least one customer spending the equivalent of R25,000 to buy 106 meals, according to a statement from The China Consumers Association.

Some would-be collectors hired helpers to buy meals and find toys for them, in some cases throwing away the food they were required to buy, the group said.

"KFC, as a food operator, uses the limited-edition blind box sales method to induce and condone consumers' irrational and excessive purchase of food packages," the organisation wrote, which is "contrary to public order, good customs and the spirit of the law."

KFC's parent company Yum! Brands did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

China has taken legal steps in recent years to curb food waste from promotions, including a major campaign in 2020 banning influencers from posting "wasteful binge eating" videos on social media.

Spending sprees around limited-edition fast food items aren't exclusive to China. In 2021, McDonald's included limited-edition Pokemon cards in some Happy Meals in the USA, and fans quickly began buying up 50 to 100 cards at once to keep or resell, prompting some locations to begin limiting order sizes. 

Fan excitement over McDonald's "Rick and Morty"-inspired Szechuan sauce was even more extreme, with some dedicated customers buying sauce packets online for hundreds of dollars, or even purchasing photos of the packets.

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