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)
  • MadisonSch
    1/23/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    I would rather choose fries than the alternated version of fries,or yuca. If they cannot sell fries, then that probably means they dont have the money or farmers and are not producing enough potatoes for them.

  • CharismaM
    1/23/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    I hope they fix the french fry shortage soon so the people in Venezuela no longer go without it. McDonald's french fries are a big part of why people like to eat there. Some people go there just for the fries.

  • ratiaira
    1/23/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    first off what is yuca? but anyways this is all the way mcdonalds fault when ever they noticed they shipped to the wrong place the could have changed the route

  • jackz-Koc
    1/23/2015 - 01:55 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.

  • Ashleypatt
    1/23/2015 - 01:56 p.m.

    You would never think that they would run out of french fries. French fries come from a farm grown out from the ground. People will probably not come to MacDonalds that much when theirs no fries because that is what everyone mostly gets with there meal or whatever they decide to order. If there not going to be french fries i think they should have something really healthy until they can get more.

  • brandonj-Koc
    1/23/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    Certain parts of business structure in this case McDonald's fries being made with a vegetable other than just potatoes these are very useful and alleviates the need for potato imports into Venezuela.

  • jackz-Koc
    1/23/2015 - 03:25 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.

  • ChiChiM-Alb
    1/23/2015 - 04:51 p.m.

    I think that it is unfair, and the Venezuelans should get real fries. Unless they like the yuca better they should otherwise not use it. They should charge less since they are not giving real fries.

  • raymondp-Koc
    1/23/2015 - 06:31 p.m.

    It's amazing how fast mcdonalds came up with a solution to the shortage of French fries. I hope the people of Venezuela are able to solve the dispute with the ship people to be able to resume getting cold potatoes.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    1/25/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    It's kind of crazy that a shortage of French fries can make it into the news. Food is a major part of life, but I never thought that people could get so upset over the loss of their fries. For the sake of the Venezuelan citizens, I hope they get their potatoes back soon.

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