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Australians gag as KFC uses cabbage for lettuce in burgers amid shortages

A customer walks out of a KFC restaurant in Shanghai, China, in this October 9, 2015 file photo. image, REUTERS, Aly Song.

A customer walks out of a KFC restaurant in Shanghai, China, in this October 9, 2015 file photo. image, REUTERS, Aly Song.

Published Jun 8, 2022

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A controversy is roiling the fast-food industry in Australia and prompting consumer complaints.

It has to do with climate change, supply chain shortages and inflation - but mostly, with cabbage.

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The controversy began when the Australian branch of the fast-food chain KFC notified consumers in some parts of the country that their burgers could taste a little different for a while as some KFC restaurants swapped out the traditional lettuce leaf for "a lettuce and cabbage blend" after deadly floods in eastern Australia earlier this year disrupted agricultural supply chains.

"We're currently experiencing a lettuce shortage. So, we're using a lettuce and cabbage blend on all products containing lettuce until further notice," KFC said, according to Agence-France Presse.

KFC Australia did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request from The Washington Post for comment.

A cached version of the company's statement dated May 27 blamed the floods in the states of Queensland and New South Wales for the change, and said KFC restaurants in five states, including NSW and Victoria, would be affected. It said the company hoped to "get things back to normal ASAP."

The news prompted outrage on social media, where many fans of the fast-food chain criticized the choice of cabbage to replace lettuce in KFC burgers.

"Feels like a sign of the apocalypse," one Twitter user wrote last Tuesday, sharing a photo of a KFC sign giving customers a "heads up" about the cabbage-lettuce blend and informing them they could "remove it" from their order "if that's not your bag."

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The news also prompted some cabbage fans to come out of the woodwork to defend the leafy green.

"I like cabbage in burgers. It's more substantial and gives more bite," wrote Amy Remeikis, a political reporter for the Guardian Australia.

Australia's eastern coast was hit by severe floods this year that killed at least 22 people, according to the Brisbane Times, and disrupted agricultural crops. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said the country is experiencing more heavy rainfall events over time that can be made more intense by a warming climate.

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Experts say the disruptions, coupled with higher gas prices caused by the war in Ukraine and challenges related to overseas shipping, also caused the price of lettuce to spike in Australia. Social media users in the country have shared photos of the price of a head of iceberg lettuce at their local supermarkets, which can run as high as $12 Australian (about $8.60 in U.S. currency). Prices of other products also have climbed amid a global surge in inflation.

It's not the first time that shortages have affected the menu offerings of KFC Australia. Earlier this year, the company said it had to drop some items from its menu amid disruptions in its supply of chicken - a distressing development for a brand whose reputation is built on fried poultry.

The Washington Post

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