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Kentucky Fried Chicken plans lighter menu

By ALAN GERSTEN UPI Business Writer

NEW YORK -- The president of Kentucky Fried Chicken, trying to deemphasize the 'Fried' in its name, disclosed plans to begin selling a 'Lite 'n Crispy' version of the chicken made famous by Colonel Harlan Sanders.

The new product, which is lower in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol, will be introduced in the Northeast starting next week and be available at the fast-food chain's restaurants throughout the country by the end of this summer.

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'Fried chicken on the bone is not growing as fast as the entire poultry segment,' Kyle T. Craig, president of Kentucky Fried Chicken USA, said Tuesday in an interview with United Press International. 'We want to position KFC to a more contemporary image.'

In fact, Craig said the company, while not formally changing its name, is calling itself 'KFC.'

'Fried is not a contemporary image,' Craig explained.

In today'shealth-conscious world, consumers are worried about high caloric and cholesterol intake, and fried has a bad conotation when it comes to food.

As a result, KFC spent a year and 'several million dollars' to develop 'Lite 'n Crispy,' Craig said.

On average, the new skinless chicken has 39 percent fewer calories, 45 percent less fat, 44 percent less sodium and 37 percent less cholesterol than KFC's 'Extra Tasty Crispy' chicken.

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The new chicken will cost about 10 cents per piece more than KFC's other chicken.

Craig said KFC selected the Northeast as the first region in which 'Lite 'n Crispy' will be sold because it, like the West Coast, has many health-conscious people and because it is suffering economically. Offering a new product is one way to make business grow during hard times, he said.

Despite the weak national economy, KFC expects sales in 1990 to reach a record $6 billion. Results will be announced next month.

Thanks to new product diversification, KFC hopes to double that figure in the next 10 years.

Besides 'Lite'n Crispy,' KFC has been doing test marketing on 'Monterey Broiled Chicken' in Reno and Las Vegas, Nev., for the last nine months. Craig declined to specify the test results but said its restaurants in Reno and Las Vegas are among KFC's highest performing stores.

'Monterey Broiled Chicken' is expected to be sold nationwide by 1992.

Finally, since KFC is innovating and its hamburger competitors are offering chicken, would KFC think about eventually offering burgers?

'If it doesn't cluck, I don't want it,' Craig replied.

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KFC, a unit of Pepsico Inc., of Purchase, N.Y., is the nation's fourth-largest fast-food franchise operation in terms of sales, behind McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut, another Pepsico unit. KFC has 5, 000 stores nationwide, including 700 in the Northeast, and 3,200 more overseas.

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