KFC UK & Ireland has announced a calorie reduction commitment to remove 20% of calories per serving by 2025, and is planning to launch a new vegetarian option.

The commitment is the latest phase of KFC’s long-term nutrition strategy.

By 2020, KFC will introduce more lunch and dinner dishes under 600 calories, in line with Public Health England’s latest campaign, which encourages people to aim for 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner, plus balanced choices in-between. Before that, by 2019, KFC will be making changes to its existing healthy sides,. Additionally, as an alternative to fried chicken, KFC is to launch a new vegetarian option, which will be tested with customers later this year.

From today, KFC has also committed to only launch low or zero calorie carbonated soft drinks.

Working with a series of partners, KFC will trial a behavioural change programme to ‘nudge’ consumers towards lighter choices. This will include a series of trials focused on raising awareness and understanding of nutritional information. It will also include pricing tests, and encouraging customers to switch to healthier sides as an alternative to fries and choose low or zero calorie drinks.

Victoria Robertson, head of food innovation, KFC UK & Ireland said: “We know people are more passionate than ever about eating well, and we face a big challenge in shifting their perceptions of what we offer. We’ve done it before, though – the success of our Riceboxes has shown that our fans will go for lighter options from us.

“That said, we know any new menu and recipe changes will have to be just as tasty as today – our fans absolutely love our Original Recipe chicken, and we won’t be changing the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices! This is about providing choice, and offering delicious, signature KFC taste that just happens to be lighter.”

Paula MacKenzie, General Manager, KFC UK & Ireland, said: “I’m incredibly proud to be making this commitment today. Our programme will not only provide our customers with an amazing, tasty range of healthier lunch and dinner dishes, but we’ll also be helping find ways to support them to make the lighter choice.

“Everyone in the food and drink industry, from fast food to traditional restaurants, is being scrutinised for the nutritional content of their meals. As an industry leader and world famous brand, we know that we bear a responsibility to help move the sector forwards.“