Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, announced recently its intent to acquire Popeyes, one of the largest quick service restaurant chains in the United States that specializes in serving chicken.

If the proposed $1.8 billion deal is approved, what will its impact on the poultry industry be? It could end up being fairly significant.

One of the first things that came to my mind when learning about this possible transaction was whether Popeye’s would fall under the RBI policy concerning antibiotic use in its poultry supply chain.

Presently, Popeyes, which has roughly 2,600 chicken concept restaurants in the United States and 25 other countries, does not have a policy on antibiotic use in its chicken supply.

But RBI does.

In late 2017, the company announced that it would only source chicken raised without antibiotics also used in human medicine for its restaurants in the United States before the end of 2017, and at all of its restaurants in Canada before the end of 2018.

Should the Popeye’s acquisition be finalized, which RBI stated it expected to happen in or before April, RBI’s need for chicken will increase dramatically. That poses the question of whether enough chicken that meets that criteria would be available for use in Popeyes restaurants by the required time frames.

Waiting for an answer

I sent an email to RBI’s media relations team, asking if the company’s antibiotics policy would also apply to the Popeyes locations if the acquisition is finalized. I have yet to get a reply.

The lack of response, while disappointing, wasn’t terribly surprising. It’s understandable that a company wants to do its due diligence while awaiting approval of an acquisition and maybe it is still researching the feasibility of transitioning Popeyes’ supply within those standards and timelines.

Hopefully, an answer will come soon.

Comprehensive resource for antibiotic-free poultry production available

A new collection of exclusive articles, blogs, infographics and videos on antibiotic-free poultry production, by trusted WATT Global Media editors and industry experts, equip poultry producers and marketers with information to help them make critical business decisions. Purchase your copy.