March 24, 2008 / 3:42 PM / 11 years ago

Will KFC grilled chicken be as successful as fried?

NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) - Can Kentucky Fried Chicken translate its fried chicken success into grilled chicken success? The chicken chain will soon find out.

KFC Corp, a unit of Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) that is known for its selection of Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, said on Monday that it is testing Kentucky Grilled Chicken in a bid to add non-fried foods to its menu.

The new grilled chicken is being tested in Indianapolis, Colorado Springs, San Diego, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, Florida, and Austin, Texas, with a nationwide roll-out expected for early 2009.

“This great tasting product will help KFC continue to evolve and increase our relevance among consumers looking for non-fried menu options,” said Gregg Dedrick, president of KFC, in a statement.

A slowing U.S. economy has taken a toll on domestic results at many fast food chains as people are spending less money eating at restaurants. Yum’s U.S. operations for the past year have been a sore point for the company, even as it posted stronger growth in China and international businesses.

In February, Chief Executive David Novak said KFC “results for 2007 fell short of expectations and underscored the need for dramatic change.”

He said at the time that the company was working with franchisees on a new line of grilled chicken menu items and that it planned to give the business a more youthful image in its new advertising campaign.

The company said on Monday that the Kentucky Grilled Chicken will be supported with three new television commercials.

It also said it is introducing new buckets to serve chicken in that are half red and half white — with “Kentucky Grilled Chicken” graphics on the white side and “Kentucky Fried Chicken” graphics on the red side. (Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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