KFC returning to Israel this month, but not the kosher version

On its fourth attempt to clinch a piece of the local fast food market, Kentucky Fried Chicken will run operations itself, won’t change recipe to adhere to Jewish law

A Kentucky Fried Chicken logo. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A Kentucky Fried Chicken logo. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

One of America’s most famous fast food brands will be coming back to Israel this month, and this time will not attempt to appeal to the religious public.

After reports earlier this year indicated Kentucky Fried Chicken was looking at relaunching in Israel — for a fourth time — the company has confirmed that it will open a new location in Nazareth around Christmas.

KFC opened and closed in Israel in the 1980s and 90s, and then remained open between 2003 and 2012.

In all three previous cases the brand was operated by local franchises rather than the parent company itself, but the latest effort will be managed by the latter.

And unlike prior iterations, KFC will no longer be kosher. In previous cases the famous fried chicken recipe was modified to keep within Jewish dietary laws, but these changes made the chicken more expensive and, according to some consumers, less tasty than the American original.

In KFC’s last incarnation in Israel, franchise owner Udi Shamai’s eight locations went kosher after the company allowed him to switch the milk powder in the crispy coating to soy and to use kosher-slaughtered chickens instead of those provided by the company.

“The moment we switched to kosher, sales began to plunge and it was no longer economically viable. The product was less good, whereas things had gone fine with un-kosher chickens,” Shamai told business website Globes earlier this year.

KFC is working on plans for multiple branches around the country following its inaugural Nazareth location. The chain has more than 23,000 restaurants in over 140 countries and territories around the world. It already has six outlets in three West Bank Palestinian cities.

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