Millions of Americans suffered a major blow last month when McDonald’s announced plans to eliminate some of its popular menu items. While having fewer Quarter Pounder options does sound like a major bummer, I think it’s safe to say people in Venezuela have it far worse. That’s because more than 100 McDonald’s franchises in the South American country have completely run out of French fries.
Before you the jump the gun and blame the Hamburglar for getting greedy, it turns out the shortage of French fries stems from a contract dispute with US ports. Per The Associated Press:
McDonald’s is blaming a contract dispute with West Coast dock workers for halting the export of frozen fries to the country. 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 Tuesday why Venezuela’s neighbors are not suffering from similar scarcity.
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.”
Some of those alternative options tasked with the responsibility of replacing McD’s golden stalks of salty, greasy goodness? Deep-fried arepa flatbreads and fries made of yuca, a starchy food common in South American cuisine.
The lack of frozen potatoes is not entirely a surprise, however, especially for those who are familiar with Venezuela’s economic situation.
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 the official exchange rate) or the cheapest (90 cents at the black market rate).
Whatever the reason for the shortage, the bottom line is a French fries-less McDonald’s customer is ultimately a sad McDonald’s customer. Ahem, allow me to illustrate what MY reaction would be: