What? Another country has run out of fries?
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?
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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 and are now serving alternatives like deep-fried arepa flatbreads or yuca, a starchy staple of traditional South American cooking.

McDonald's is blaming a contract dispute with American West Coast dock workers for halting the export of frozen fries to Venezuela. The dispute also caused several days of French fry rationing in Japan last month. But Sonia Ruseler, an Argentina-based spokeswoman for Arcos Dorados, which runs McDonald's restaurants in Latin America, declined to say why Venezuela's neighbors are not suffering from similar scarcity.

Accustomed to shortages of their favorite foods, and equally in the habit of grumbling about the government as they walk away empty-handed, many Venezuelans assume the embattled socialist administration is to blame.

"It's because of the situation here; it's a total debacle," said Maria Guerreiro, who huffed out of a Caracas McDonald's with her family when she found out they were serving only fries made of yuca, which is also known as cassava. Her daughter won't eat the super-starchy root, she said, and they'd come for the sole purpose of treating the two-year-old to a Happy Meal.

Ruseler said the corporation is working to resolve the shortages and, in the meantime, "will continue to give our clients the McDonald's experience, offering 100 percent Venezuelan options."

John Toaspern, chief marketing officer with the US Potato Board, noted that Venezuela's import of frozen potatoes fell off a cliff long before the labor dispute escalated. During the first 10 months of 2014, the country imported just 14 percent of the frozen fries from major McDonald's supplier WashingtonState that it brought in for the same period the year before, according to federal data compiled by the board.

Most of the shortages in Venezuela are driven in part by the country's tight currency controls, which make it hard to get dollars at a subsidized rate for imports while creating a thriving black market for currency. As a result, the country either has the most expensive Happy Meal in the world ($27 at the official exchange rate) or the cheapest (90 cents at the black market rate).

McDonald's has likely been grappling with shortages in Venezuela for a while, according to Alixa Sharkey, a researcher with the market research company Euromonitor International. And while other countries might be able to adjust to hiccups at the ports by finding alternate solutions like flying in frozen potatoes, the dysfunction in Venezuela makes these workarounds impossible.

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

While McDonald's may be the ultimate symbol of U.S. capitalism, the socialist government seems acutely aware that Venezuelans relish their Happy Meals. A state-sponsored news website posted a story this week assuring the situation "has nothing at all to do" with government policy.

At the Caracas McDonald's, a man wearing an "employee of the month" cap braved the dinner rush recently, patiently explaining to patron after patron that instead of French fries, the store was offering yuca fries, mini-arepas, or salads.

Some customers sampled their pale yuca fries tentatively as they picked up their orders. 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?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/what-another-country-has-run-out-fries/

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COMMENTS (61)
  • Damikus123
    1/22/2015 - 01:31 p.m.

    this story is about Mcdonalds running out of fries so since they are out of fries they have been selling yuca fries. and if potatoes are made out into fries where are all the fries?

  • jackz-Koc
    1/22/2015 - 03:24 p.m.

    I learned that our world economic structure is very sensitive. If a part of the world or certain business does not agree with where they are exporting to, the infrastructure can break down and people will not receive certain goods.
    In this case, I could not imagine going to McDonald's and getting French Fries that are not potatoes. Gross.

  • BenB10
    1/22/2015 - 04:07 p.m.

    Venezuela has run out of french fries. Now they have over a hundred McDonalds are serving deep fried arepa bread, or yuca which is a traditional bread in South America as an alternative. McDonalds is the ultimate symbol of U.S. capitalism. But they say that has nothing to do with the shortages. If the shortages have nothing to do with the government, then why are their fry shortages?

  • BenB10
    1/22/2015 - 04:07 p.m.

    Venezuela has run out of french fries. Now they have over a hundred McDonalds are serving deep fried arepa bread, or yuca which is a traditional bread in South America as an alternative. McDonalds is the ultimate symbol of U.S. capitalism. But they say that has nothing to do with the shortages. If the shortages have nothing to do with the government, then why are their fry shortages?

  • dariuss-Orv
    1/22/2015 - 04:43 p.m.

    i would like to know, HOW DOES McDONALDS RUN OUT OF FRENCH FRIES!!!!! THEY ARE KNOWN FOR FRENCH FRIES!!! if they ran out then they are definantley doing something wrong

  • SpencerR-2
    1/22/2015 - 11:26 p.m.

    This article is about a huge fast food franchise found all over the world. This article describes how 100 McDonald's restaurants ran out of french potatoes. Then they had to start serving other sides rather than fries. These other side are called deep-fried arepa, flat bread,or yuca which is a starchy staple of traditional South American cooking.

    This article was interesting because I thought they would never run out of potatoes unless of a national shortage. It was kinda funny to hear about the sides they had to make up for the fires.

  • SarahAN-Kan
    1/23/2015 - 09:20 a.m.

    I think that if Mcdonalds is running out of potatoes to make thier fries out of from multiple places in the world then they need to get better company to supply the potatoes faster. Their a muli million dollar company and should be having issues like this.

  • 3zoeyt
    1/23/2015 - 10:42 a.m.

    Venezuela's Mcdonald's has run out of fries and are now serving yucas(deep fried little flatbreads). John( a chief marketing officer with the US Potato Board) said that the fries import fell off a cliff long before the labor dispute escalated.Most of the shortages in Venezuela are in part by the country's tight currency controls, making it hard to get dollars at a subsidized rate for imports while creating a thriving black market for currency.As a result of this the country either has the most expensive happy meal in the world or the cheapest.Some customers sampled their yuca fries as they picked up their orders. No one chose the salad.

  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    1/23/2015 - 11:41 a.m.

    I think that it is a good thing that they have some type of alternative. However, the fact that these fast food restaurants are running out of fries means that too many people are eating out.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    1/23/2015 - 01:29 p.m.

    Wait. Wait. Wait. No more fries? NOOOO! I would hate to go to McDonalds, order a meal, and have the cashier tell me: "I'm sorry mam, but we have run out of french fries. You can get yuca fries, mini-arepas, or a salad. Thank you for understanding." NO! I want my fries. I feel bad for these poor unfortunate souls.

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