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KFC reports gravy shortage, following chicken crisis

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People look into a branch of KFC that is closed due to problems with the delivery of chicken on February 20, 2018 in Bristol, England. KFC has been forced to close hundred of its outlets as a shortage of chicken, due to a failure at the company's new delivery firm DHL, has disrupted the fast-food giant's UK operation and is thought to be costing the fast food chain £1million a day.

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People look into a branch of KFC that is closed due to problems with the delivery of chicken on February 20, 2018 in Bristol, England. KFC has been forced to close hundred of its outlets as a shortage of chicken, due to a failure at the company’s new delivery firm DHL, has disrupted the fast-food giant’s UK operation and is thought to be costing the fast food chain £1million a day.

Yum Brands said on Wednesday it is offering limited menus at its reopened UK KFC restaurants after a chicken supply snafu with a new delivery firm, but now there is a gravy shortage.

The crisis in the UK market that accounted for roughly 3 percent of Yum’s global system sales in 2017 comes as a business turnaround at the fried chicken chain was taking hold.

KFC, which has 900 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, switched its delivery contract from Bidvest Logistics to DHL on Feb. 14. Shortly after, the chain closed hundreds of restaurants in the region due to “teething” problems at DHL.

A Yum spokesman said on Wednesday that 97 percent of the region’s KFC restaurants are open, but are now experiencing gravy supply disruptions. The spokesman did not immediately comment on the financial impact of the closures.

“Due to the ongoing distribution challenges DHL is experiencing, some restaurants are continuing to serve a reduced menu,” a spokesman said. “We’re working as hard as we can to get this sorted out. We know that our gravy is a big favorite!”

The chain has apologized to customers, running a newspaper ad showing a photo of a chicken bucket with the KFC logo letters rearranged to read “FCK.” The accompanying text read: “WE’RE
SORRY. A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal … Thank you for bearing with us.”

It has invited Twitter users in the UK and Ireland to click on #WheresMyChicken to find their nearest open KFC.

A Twitter post for the police in Whitefield, Manchester, read: “For those who contacted the Police about KFC being out of chicken … please STOP. Their website says the Prestwich store is now open if you want to follow the four police cars through the drive thru.”

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm whether customers were indeed contacting local police.

Elsewhere, one Twitter user posted a video of two men in full KFC uniforms buying chicken at an Asda supermarket. In the video, when a man off-camera questions the workers about the purchases, one responded: “Chicken is chicken, you know … You’re still getting KFC chicken at the end of the day.”

Shares in Yum, whose brands are known for creatively engaging social media-savvy customers, were up 2.7 percent at $82.32 in midday trading.

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covid variants are a risk

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Gita Gopinath, the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The International Monetary Fund has become more upbeat about the global economy, as coronavirus vaccinations are administered across the world. It is, however, worried about the risk new Covid variants pose to the post-pandemic recovery.

According to its latest World Economic Outlook, published Tuesday, the institution now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% this year — a 0.3 percentage point increase from October’s forecasts. It sees global GDP (gross domestic product) expanding by 4.2% in 2022.

“Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens,” the IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said in a blog post.

“There remains tremendous uncertainty and prospects vary greatly across countries.”

The world has seen surging numbers of Covid-19 infections and deaths over the past few months, as new variants of the coronavirus have spread rapidly. These have been described as more infectious and are potentially deadlier than the original strain.

As a result, many countries have stepped up their social restrictions, which has inflicted further economic pain.

In fact, the IMF cut its GDP forecasts for the euro zone this year by 1 percentage point. The 19-member region, which has been severely hit by the pandemic, is now expected to grow by 4.2% this year.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain — the four largest economies in the euro zone — also saw their growth expectations cut for 2021.

Economic activity in the region slowed in the final quarter of 2020 and this is expected to continue into the first part of 2021. The IMF does not expect the euro area economy to return to end-of-2019 levels before the end of 2022.

U.S. growth revised up

On the other hand, the United States is set to grow more than expected this year, according to the IMF.

The Fund revised its GDP forecast upward by 2 percentage points on the back of a strong momentum in the second part of 2020 and additional fiscal support. GDP is now seen at 5.1% this year.

The U.S. Congress approved almost $900 billion in a stimulus package in December and President Joe Biden has suggested that more relief packages could come soon.

Looking at emerging markets, China is set to grow above 8% this year, the IMF said.

“China returned to its pre-pandemic projected level in the fourth quarter of 2020, ahead of all large economies. The United States is projected to surpass its pre-Covid levels this year, well ahead of the euro area,” Gopinath said on Tuesday.

The IMF reiterated that governments will need to keep supporting their economies via fiscal stimulus in order to bolster economic recovery.

“Policy actions should ensure effective support until the recovery is firmly underway, with an emphasis on advancing key imperatives of raising potential output, ensuring participatory growth that benefits all, and accelerating the transition to lower carbon dependence,” Gopinath added.

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South African leader Ramaphosa urges rich countries to stop ‘hoarding’ vaccines

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the crowd gathered at the Miki Yili Stadium, ahead of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of Freedom Day, in Makhanda, Eastern Cape Province on April 27, 2019.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged the world’s wealthiest countries to stop “hoarding” vaccines and called for an end to “vaccine nationalism.”

In remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda event, Ramaphosa cautioned that some countries had ordered more supplies of vaccines than they needed, and that this was counterproductive to the global recovery effort.

“Ending the pandemic worldwide will require greater collaboration on the rollout of vaccines, ensuring that no country is left behind in this effort,” he said.

“The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from the developers and manufacturers of these vaccines, and some countries have even gone beyond and acquired up to four times what their populations need,” he said.

“That was aimed at hoarding these vaccines and now this is being done to the exclusion of other countries in the world that most need this,” he added, urging major economies to release their excess stockpiles for distribution to developing nations.

South Africa is the country worst hit by Covid-19 on the continent, which has largely managed to stave off the kind of uncontrolled spread which brought the U.S. and much of Europe to a standstill. As of Tuesday morning, the country had recorded more than 1.4 million cases with 41,117 deaths.

In a panel discussion as part of the Davos Agenda event on Tuesday morning, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said the continent is facing a “very aggressive second wave” of the pandemic, with mortality increasing on average 18% across the 55 African member states last week.

“We as a continent must recognize that vaccines will not be here when we want them, but as such we need to really focus on the public health measures that we know work,” he added.

Ramaphosa, who is also chairman of the African Union, lauded the continent’s collaborations on Covid-19 responses, including the African Medical Supplies Platform, which has offered assistance to national health systems, established regional collaboration hubs and deployed community healthcare workers to support testing and treatment efforts.

He also praised the progress of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which he said was created when AU nations realized “how the world’s richest countries are behaving.”

The AVATT has secured a provisional 270 million doses for AU member states directly, in addition to the 600 million expected from the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.

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Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte quits amid political crisis

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference on July 7, 2020 in Rome, Italy.

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LONDON — Italy is facing more political turmoil after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday, at a time when the country faces a severe health and economic crisis.

Italy has been embroiled in political uncertainty over the past three weeks after a small party, Italia Viva, decided to exit the coalition government led by Conte. The rupture in the executive came after a dispute over EU pandemic recovery funds, and how they are disbursed, which has plunged the nation into instability.

Earlier on Tuesday, Conte, who has no political affiliation, told his ministers that he is resigning. Conte then handed in his official resignation to President Sergio Mattarella. The president has reportedly asked Conte to remain in a caretaker role while consultations take place over the formation of a new government.

However, the resignation is seen as an attempt to avoid a parliamentary defeat at a Senate vote later this week.

He narrowly survived a vote of confidence last week, but his government has been stripped off a working majority with the departure of Italia Viva — making it difficult to pass any major laws for the remainder of his mandate.

“Having failed in his desperate efforts to broaden his majority, Conte and his government were set to be defeated in a new Senate vote that is currently scheduled for 27 January,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the consultancy firm Teneo, said in a note.

He said Conte’s resignation was an attempt “to ensure his own political survival.”

Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella will have to decide whether to give Conte the chance to negotiate with lawmakers again, looking for a majority that will allow him to govern.

“Conte’s calculation is that by moving early, and thereby avoiding a humiliating defeat in the Senate later this week, he would increase his chances of securing a mandate from Mattarella to form a new government,” Piccoli said, while warning that “it is currently unclear whether Conte can succeed in such an effort.”

If Italian lawmakers do not reach an agreement over a new coalition government, with or without Conte as prime minister, then voters might have to head to the polls sooner rather than later.

“The bottom line is that Italy will continue to be governed by an executive that is not apt for the tough job ahead, just like it has been the case since the last election,” Piccoli said.

This is a breaking news story and it is being updated.

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