Fiji disputes the claim, saying KFC pulled out because of falling sales and rising costs.
The restaurant chain founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, said the military regime had not allowed it to import its famous blend of 11 herbs and spices and a milk and egg mix used for KFC’s secret recipes since last October.
“The missing ingredients led to a decline in product quality, coupled with rising food costs, which contributed to decreasing sales,” a KFC statement said.
But Fiji’s Biosecurity Authority – led by Colonel Mason Smith – said it was not to blame for KFC’s departure.
Colonel Smith said Fiji “will not be bullied” by Colonel Sanders’ chicken chain into compromising its biosecurity requirements.
He described KFC’s claims as “mischievous and misleading”.
“We wanted to also reassure the public that the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji is first and foremost here to protect the national interest and to protect this nation from the introduction of pests and diseases.”
BAF chief executive Elvis Silvestrini (Two Colonels and an Elvis now. Fiji is one happening place) said there was a discrepancy between what KFC was telling the public and what it told the Government.
“In a letter to suppliers the [general manager] of KFC … said that their decision to suspend business operations was due to the rising costs and deteriorating sales.”
He said KFC’s claim that it closed its restaurants in Fiji because BAF refused their imports were “simply not correct”.
Mr Silvestrini said the Fijian Government had temporarily withheld two cartons of milk and egg mix because KFC did not provide a veterinary certificate as required.
“It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Regardless of whose version is correct the simple fact is that cutting off the KFC supply to the general population is a bigger threat to the dictatorship of Commodore Frank Bainimarama than any political sanctions from foreign governments.