What? Another country has run out of fries? A Quarter Pounder meal is served with arepas or corn cakes at a local McDonald's, in Caracas, Venezuela (AP photos)
What? Another country has run out of fries?
Lexile

Forget the French fries. How about a side of yuca with that Big Mac?

Venezuela's more than 100 McDonald's franchises have run out of potatoes. Now they are serving alternatives. Like deep-fried arepa flatbreads or yuca. That's a starchy staple of traditional South American cooking.

McDonald's is blaming a contract dispute with American West Coast dock workers. The company says the dispute has halted the export of frozen fries to Venezuela. It also caused several days of French fry rationing in Japan last month. But neighboring countries to Venezuela are not suffering the same scarcity of fries.

Sonia Ruseler is a spokeswoman for the company that runs McDonald's restaurants in Latin America. She declined to say why nearby countries still have their McDonald's fries.

Many Venezuelans assume their government is to blame. They are accustomed to shortages of their favorite foods. And they are equally in the habit of grumbling about the government.

"It's because of the situation here. It's a total debacle," said Maria Guerreiro. With her family, she left a McDonald's in Caracas. She had just found out the store was only serving fries made of yuca. The food is also known as cassava. Her daughter won't eat the super-starchy root, she said. They'd come for the sole purpose of treating the two-year-old to a Happy Meal. Caracas is the capital of Venezuela.

McDonald's has likely been grappling with shortages in Venezuela for a while. That's according to Alixa Sharkey. She is a researcher with the market research company Euromonitor International.

"This situation probably has little to do with the U.S. port dispute. (It) is mostly the result of Venezuela's very difficult economic situation," she said.

The Venezuelan government says it "has nothing at all to do" with the French fries shortage.

At the Caracas McDonald's, a man was wearing an "employee of the month" cap. He explained to customers that instead of French fries, the store was offering yuca fries. Or salads.

Some customers sampled their pale yuca fries tentatively. No one chose the salad.

Critical thinking challenge: Fries are made from potatoes, which grow on farms. So why are dock workers who load ships causing problems for French fry-loving Venezuelans?

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COMMENTS (13)
  • alexcl-Lam
    1/22/2015 - 03:48 p.m.

    Although people don't like what's happening there at McDonald's, I would like to try some yuca because I've never had it. I want to try it.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    1/22/2015 - 08:01 p.m.

    I like French fries. But anyway, I think farmers should grow more potato crops and then we could make French fries. But it might be a lot of work for the farmers. Potato crops take a lot of time to grow, (at least I think so). I think it is kind of weird for McDonalds to sell something like those pale yuca fries (it sounds disgusting). Why couldn't they just say they ran out of French fries? That is what I would do if I worked in McDonalds. But I think they are just trying to convince the customers that they still didn't run out of potatoes. Most importantly, what I'm trying to say is, I think it is wrong for McDonalds to sell something else just because they can't make French fries anymore.

  • JeVon-Mag
    1/23/2015 - 09:42 a.m.

    I think that they cant get fries because farmers aren't giving up there fries so they can make there own fries for free and not have to buy them

  • Kailey-Mag
    1/28/2015 - 09:45 a.m.

    Because the potatoes are a hard vegetable to harvest. The people cant keep harvesting potatoes.The country is getting angry because as soon as they get potatoes they get rid of them by eating them all.

  • wesleyl-Bai
    1/28/2015 - 11:52 a.m.

    I think that when you order a meal you should expect what you order

  • DakariW-Pip
    1/29/2015 - 08:59 a.m.

    I thought this story was good because it show how many people care about having fries and the other types of foods they made when they didn't have fries. but people didn't have a problem with it they still eat the yuca.

  • zG2000mimi
    2/02/2015 - 09:10 a.m.

    I think its bad that they ran out of potatoes that's not healthy but it is funny there also blaming their government for the lack of potatoes

  • JoshL-Mau
    2/04/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

    How does a whole entire country run out of fries and potato's?

  • anthonym-DiB
    2/04/2015 - 12:57 p.m.

    the story about fries i do believe it is the trade that is causing the problem

  • CharlotteR-Saw
    2/04/2015 - 01:45 p.m.

    No french fries would be a place I wouldn't want to live in!Poor Venezuela!

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