This undated product image provided by KFC shows plant-based chicken. Picture: AP

London - KFC told on Thursday that it has repeatedly tried to move away from fried food – but abandoned healthier options because nobody bought them.

The fast food giant spent £8-million installing ovens in its shops so it could start selling baked and grilled chicken, rather than the fattier deep-fried meat for which it is famous.

But a senior executive said the chain admitted defeat after low sales of three products – the Brazer grilled chicken sandwich in 2011, the Rancher sandwich in 2012 and a pulled chicken product in 2015.

Jenny Packwood, head of brand engagement at KFC UK and Ireland, said: "It didn’t go brilliantly well. We tried and we failed to launch a non-fried product."

She told Public Health England’s annual conference in Warwick that the company was "unable to sustain sales", adding: "It’s no good launching a product which looks good nutritionally but then nobody buys."

The firm has also made its fries thicker to reduce the surface area which soaks up oil. This reduced calories by 18 percent and fat by 12 percent.

However, Packwood said the move was "controversial", adding: "We get a lot of grief about our fries."

The company has had more success with healthier boxed meals, which include a single piece of fried chicken surrounded by salad and rice for less than 500 calories. She said the best tactic was a "health by stealth" approach of gradually removing fat, calories and salt so that customers do not notice. 

Daily Mail