McDonald’s rationing fries in Japan
It’s the worst possible situation for chefs or online cooking school students: being in the middle of preparing a staple item and realizing that you’re running low on the necessary ingredients. That’s a feeling that cooks and executives at one of the world’s most popular fast food restaurants are feeling frequently as of late. According to The Washington Post, the legendary burger joint McDonald’s has begun to ration their french fries in Japan as they’ve started to run out of the product. While this may seem somewhat improbable, it’s happening and the effects are certainly being felt by consumers.
The rationing, which has come in response to a shortage of the specific American-grown potatoes used for McDonald’s french fries, was implemented on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. While early reports preceding the shortage were unsure if it would take a toll on all of the island nation’s restaurants, Quartz has indicated that it is expected to limit consumption of fries at all of the more than 3,100 franchises. Fries will still be available, for now, but only in reduced sizes. Specifically, McDonald’s has cut the medium, large and super sized increments from its menu entirely, leaving only the relatively modest ‘small’ size for its customers. In an effort to maintain fair pricing, the company also reduced the prices of its combo meals accordingly to reflect the smaller portions.
Though there were rumors circulating in earlier reports that the shortage was due to a virus affecting the species of potato that McDonald’s uses, this is not the case. Rather, the incident has to do with human conflict. According to ABC News, there is an ongoing labor dispute between unions of workers, who are heavily involved with freight shipping at sea ports all along the U.S. West Coast, and their employers. This dispute has delayed shipments of potatoes to Japan drastically. These conflicts have allegedly been taking place for months and have resulted in a number of stop-gap plans by the fast food chain, including airlifting in frozen potatoes. Still, until these labor issues can be resolved, it seems that the Japanese will have to deal with fewer or no fries.