Customer Prem Kumar shows his one container of ketchup he got from KFC’s Independence Square, Port-of-Spain branch yesterday.

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If you wish to dress your KFC on the go, it will cost you two dollars more.

Customers of the popular fast-food franchise were surprised yesterday when they found an additional charge on their bills for condiments.

The franchise started charging $2 for condiment bags comprising of four packets, usually three packets of ketchup or mustard and one packet of pepper according to the preference of the consumer.

Several customers took to social media complaining of the charge after making the discovery on their receipts and KFC’s mobile app.

Chief Executive Officer of Prestige Holdings Simon Hardy said the decision to charge for condiments was borne out of the numerous price increases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which the franchise had absorbed.

“The reality is, we have been faced with a barrage of major increases across the board for all of our input costs increases. The likes of which we have never seen. We’re not talking about a 2-3% increase that we would have been accustomed to prior to COVID,” Hardy told the Guardian in a phone interview yesterday.

He explained the rising costs became far too high for the franchise to ignore.

“The cost of oil has gone up 65%. We are Kentucky Fried Chicken. And the cost of packaging has gone up, the cost of chicken has gone up the cost of our drinks has gone up. So everything is going up. And a lot of this is driven by the COVID disruption to the global supply chain. And if you’ve been in the supermarket, you’ve seen the dramatic increases in prices there,” said Hardy.

Hardy said the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has created more complications along the supply chain, pushing up costs more and leaving the franchise with no choice but to look at adjustments.

“(It’s) not helped by the geopolitical crisis that is now in front of us, Russia having invaded Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are one of the world’s largest suppliers of agricultural products as well as energy. So that is further exacerbating these the significant increases we’re seeing,” he said, noting that in many cases customers would not use the packets and save them for future use.

He said as such, the company made the decision to charge for the packs as it was the best way to keep the cost of the meals at a level of affordability for customers.

“We acknowledge it is a major departure from our previous policies but we are in very different times and other than everybody paying more for their KFC meals, we took this approach to try and mitigate the cost increases that we would otherwise have to do. That is the simple maths of it,” said Hardy, who confirmed no other Prestige Holdings franchise has made such a change as yet.