McDonald’s Japan is only selling small fries now

Image: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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Forget about ordering regular or large fries at McDonald’s if you’re in Japan. For at least a week starting Friday (Dec. 24), they are off the menu.

The fast food company is being forced to ration the product in Japan because of supply chain bottlenecks. It sources potatoes from North America, where omicron cases have been surging. In addition to coronavirus wreaking havoc, flooding at a Vancouver port has further squeezed the logistics network.

McDonald’s—usually called “Makudo” or “Makku” in Japan—is trying to arrange alternative flights to ensure the shortage doesn’t continue to plague its 2,900 Japanese outlets in the new year. Meanwhile, it’s offering customers a 50 yen ($0.44) discount on combos (that typically come with medium fries) on account of the smaller portion.

Another shortage of fries

Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time McDonald’s fries have faced a crunch in Japan. It happened around this time six years ago, too.

Back in December 2014, the company had to limit sales of fries because of—you guessed it!—supply chain issues. But at that time, coronavirus wasn’t to blame. It was labor disputes between 20,000 dockworkers and shipping lines at 29 US ports, exacerbated by a shortage of equipment to handle cargo and rail delays, that grounded shipments of potatoes. Back then, too, McDonald’s gave a 50 yen discount on set meals. It took three weeks, and airlifting more than 1,000 tons of potatoes, to restore normalcy.

They do grow potatoes in Japan, but perhaps not the right kind for Makku.