McDonald’s faces shortage of french fries

Eric Chen, Reporter

McDonald’s, one of the most ubiquitous fast food chains, has recently faced a shortage of fries in restaurants around the world. The lack of fries has been caused by a labor dispute affecting ports on the West Coast. In cities such as Los Angeles, disagreements between shipping companies and their workers have resulted in a slowdown of activity. Consequently, many shipments have been delayed or rerouted.
“The slowdown in the West Coast ports has been a much bigger deal than people think,” said Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx.
The trade impairment is a major problem in Japan, where more than 80 percent of its fries comes from trading with the United States. According to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Japan is the largest consumer of frozen potato products in Asia. The shortage had compelled the island country to ration fries to restaurants, forcing many to serve very small-sized portions to customers. The shortage had also caused many shipments to be rerouted or flown over to Japan, with approximately one thousand tons airlifted to the country in late December.
Fortunately, the situation seems to be improving: ports on the U.S. East Coast, unaffected by the labor conflict, have taken on the job of supplying the french fries so that restaurants were back to normal by Jan. 5.
However, all is not well in the South American country of Venezuela, where the dearth of the fries has forced restaurants to adopt substitutes. Some include fried yuca, a starchy plant-like a potato, or a flatbread called arepas, choices with which some customers are not always happy.
While many people would rather have more of McDonald’s, the Japanese government is wary about the franchise, criticizing the cleanliness, safety, and quality of its food. On Twitter, a McDonald’s corporate vice-president even retweeted an account of an incident where a tooth was found in a Japanese customer’s food.
The state-run media outlet, Telesur, has also accused the fast food giant of purposely withholding frozen fry shipments from the country, citing the fact that other American restaurant chains, such as Burger King, have a normal supply of the fries.
Burger King was quick to note that they are still offering them.
Although the supply in Japan seems to be increasing due to the rerouted shipments, many other countries are still affected by the fries shortage, where hungry McDonald’s enthusiasts might not be “having fries with that” anytime soon.