Japan is running low on McDonald's french fries, but has too much milk as supply chain issues hit

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one month ago  •  25 comments

By:   Anne Chan and Anagha Subhash Nair

Japan is running low on McDonald's french fries, but has too much milk as supply chain issues hit
McDonald's said Tuesday that it would have to ration french fries in Japan due to a supply chain shortage caused by Covid-19 and extreme weather, while the country has a glut of milk.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Fancy a few glasses of milk to wash down that small portion of fries?

Japan is pining for potatoes and drowning in dairy as the country grapples with unusual supply issues linked to those that have hit businesses and customers across the world recently.

McDonald's said Tuesday that it would have to ration french fries in Japan due to a shortage, a stark contrast from government efforts to get people to drink more milk due to an excess that may otherwise force gallons of it to be thrown away.

Both crises appear to have links to both the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather.

The fast food giant will temporarily limit sales of its famous french fries to small portions and stop selling medium and large portions throughout the country from Dec 24 to Dec 30, the company said in a statement on its website.

McDonald's attributed the shortage to recent flooding in Canada and supply chain disruption because of Covid-19.

It said that it imported potatoes from North America, specifically a port in Vancouver that was recently hit by delays due to flooding in the region. Paired with supply disruptions caused by the pandemic, the company faced issues getting shipments to Japan. It said that it had turned to alternative measures, including flying in frozen supplies.

McDonald's has more than 3,000 restaurants in Japan, and is highly popular in the country.

The world's third-largest economy has imposed strict border controls to combat Covid-19, which has led to more than 18,000 deaths in the country since the pandemic began. Japan reported its first case of community spread of the omicron variant on Wednesday, but the rate of new infections has been falling recently despite the new variant surging around the world.

The fast food giant's popular take-out and delivery service has helped it remain resilient in spite of the pandemic's effect on the Japanese economy.Noriko Hayashi / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

"(The fries shortage) is primarily due to the supply side of McDonald's global supply chain," Hiroshi Ohashi, an economics professor from the University of Tokyo, told NBC News via email. "They procure potatoes from the U.S., where port shipping has been a bottleneck," he added.

Some customers were rushing to buy their fries before the limits are introduced on Friday.

"I did not plan to eat at McDonald's today. But then, I knew from the news that McDonald's will not provide fries in medium portions and large portions from Friday for a week," Sakato Mayumi, 37, a housewife, told NBC News via Instagram. "I went to McDonald's and had a set meal with large portions of fries."

Japan isn't the first country to face supply issues involving both McDonald's and milk. The company was forced to take milkshakes off the menu for a period in the U.K. earlier this year as Covid combined with Brexit to impact the country's supply chain.

But while fries will soon be hard to come by, the Japanese are experiencing a milk glut.

Primarily centered on farms on Hokkaido island in the north of Japan, the milk industry is suffering from what appears to be a combination of unusually high supply and low demand.

The Japan Dairy Association said on its website that the continuing spread of Covid-19 is taking a toll on demand for milk, which is often given out to school students in a carton. Local media also cited a cooler summer as a potential reason for increased supply, since such weather can be conducive to growth for dairy cows.

This year's supply bucks a trend of declining domestic dairy output due to a decreasing number of farmers as Japan's population ages and young people move away from rural areas.Kohei Tsuchida / AP file

"(The oversupply of milk) is because of low domestic demand for milk, in which big consumers such as schools and restaurants have not been able to provide fresh meals, including milk, for long," said Ohashi. "A large-scale shift to virtual learning brought about by the pandemic has reduced the necessity for schools to purchase milk in bulk as part of its school lunch program."

About 5,000 tons of raw milk may need to be discarded by the end of 2021, according to government estimates.

This has led political leaders to implore the public to drink and use more of the product.

"We'd like the population to cooperate in drinking an extra cup of milk than you'd normally do and make use of milk products when cooking," said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a news conference on Tuesday.

A week earlier the country's farm minister joined the Tokyo governor at a news conference where both drank a cup of milk to set a visual example of what they hope will be a nourishing national effort.

Lawson, a Japanese convenience store franchise, is offering a 50 percent discount on cups of hot milk from Dec 31 to Jan 1 in an effort to entice winter customers.

Dairy giant Meiji also launched a campaign to boost milk consumption starring Saori Yoshida, a three-time Olympic wrestling champion.


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago

Maybe they should fly that surplus of 5000 tons of raw milk that will expire in about 8 days to Afghanistan since around a million children there are starving to death, partly because the USA will not release the 9 billion dollars that belongs to Afghanistan. 

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
1.1  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

Since that 9 billion belonged to the former Government of Afghanistan there's a 99.9% chance that it is money given to them by the USA. As such the contract has been broken so the money no longer belongs to Afghanistan. The Taliban is a Terrorist Organization and the Idea they would spend any of the money on feeding children is absurd.  

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

They should look into making cream cheese.  With the shortage here, they would make a fortune.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.2    one month ago

LOL...Good thinking, Paula.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
1.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago
Maybe they should fly that surplus of 5000 tons of raw milk that will expire in about 8 days to Afghanistan since around a million children there are starving to death, partly because the USA will not release the 9 billion dollars that belongs to Afghanistan. 

IMO shipping raw milk to Afghanistan would be a bad idea due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance.  The milk would do more harm than good.  

If I recall those with lactose intolerance can handle yogurt but I've not found info to verify that with my cursory search.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.3.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @1.3    one month ago

That comment is what's known as a Party Pooper.  Lactose intolerance may be 82% in Afghanistan, but it is 73% in Japan, and Japan is advanced enough to make sure that the milk its public drinks is lactose free.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
1.3.2  Nerm_L  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.3.1    one month ago
That comment is what's known as a Party Pooper.  Lactose intolerance may be 82% in Afghanistan, but it is 73% in Japan, and Japan is advanced enough to make sure that the milk its public drinks is lactose free.

Oooooo, too many o's and not enough p's.  Party poppers are popular aren't they?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.3.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @1.3.2    one month ago

LOL

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
1.3.4  zuksam  replied to  Nerm_L @1.3.2    one month ago

I like those jalapeno poppers with either cream cheese or cheddar. Party poppers just make a mess.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
2  Nerm_L    one month ago

I didn't realize that McDonalds had become that popular in Japan.  My curiosity was piqued so I looked up the McDonalds menu.

I'd like to try the Gracoro.  Some of the offerings are different but still familiar.  Interesting adaptation to Japanese taste and culture.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @2    one month ago

McDonald does a great job of adapting its menus to local tastes - here you can see what they do in China, and a bit of what KFC and Pizza Hut does as well.  (link) ->->

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
2.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1    one month ago
McDonald does a great job of adapting its menus to local tastes - here you can see what they do in China, and a bit of what KFC and Pizza Hut does as well.

A chili chicken burger?  Is spicy food popular in China?  Some Americanized dishes use hot peppers but a lot of those are adaptations of Southeast Asian dishes.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @2.1.1    one month ago

The Chinese generally do spice up their food, but you can order food that isn't spicy, or just a little spicy as well.  Where I live, hot pot is the famous local dish, and it is really spicy, and the people of Chongqing (my wife is a Chongqing born resident) seem to love really spicy food.  I don't mind it a little spicy, but when it comes to going out for hot pot, they have to do this for me - one side is spicy and the other is not.

800

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
2.1.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.2    one month ago
I don't mind it a little spicy, but when it comes to going out for hot pot, they have to do this for me - one side is spicy and the other is not.

Ha!  Well, I'd try it but I would need a divided bowl, too.  I'm not really of food spiced up with hot peppers.  

I grew up with spicy radishes, hot onions, and horseradish but not hot peppers.  It's a different kind of heat but still pretty spicy hot.  I like that kind of spicy food occasionally.  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @2.1.3    one month ago

Yeah, if ever a national veggie of Chongqing were chosen, this would be it:

OIP-C.BmH4sKjHoEwAumPHtALR7QHaHa?pid=ImgDet&rs=1

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
2.1.5  Nerm_L  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.4    one month ago
Yeah, if ever a national veggie of Chongqing were chosen, this would be it:

That's kinda funny.  We've seen a proliferation of Tex-Mex restaurants as immigrants have been moving into the area.  Few stay in business long.  The running joke has been that a Minnesota Taco is ketchup and ground beef on white bread - with no onion, please.

Margaritas have become quite popular though.  And Corona beer has been competing with Leinenkugel.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
2.1.6  zuksam  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1    one month ago
here you can see what they do in China

I don't know what the exchange rate is but just seeing 11.00 for a coke and 27.00 for a burger makes me want to brown bag it. Not that it's much cheaper here these days, the only thing I eat a Mc's is the regular hamburgers and I'll buy a couple and a coffee but it's shocking to see people in line spend close to 15 bucks on a single meal.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.7  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @2.1.5    one month ago

55 years ago my partner and I opened what I think was the first Mexican restaurant in Toronto, and it didn't last too long either - not big or fancy, just around 6 tables and an open kitchen.  It took a lot of years after that for Mexican food to be appreciated in Toronto, but when a nice one opened near where we lived my (ex)wife and I would take our kids for the burritos and tacos and they LOVED the fried ice cream for dessert.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @2.1.6    one month ago

The exchange rate is a little over 6 Chinese yuan for a US dollar.  That means the coke, probably large size, was about $1.80 and the burger was about $4.50.  The whole meal was about $6.30 - a lot less than 15 bucks.  How does that compare with the price in the US?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.9  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.8    one month ago

Oh, and there are Chinese similar fast food restaurants that are much less expensive - they just don't have the name and the charisma of being famous American franchises.  I often get a Saturday special of two terrific fried chicken burgers, with lots of chicken, lettuce and mayo for 12 yuan - that's one buck apiece and they use good tender delicious chicken chunks, not patties.  I'm looking at its takeout menu now - one super fried chicken burger, a large ice cold Pepsi, 5 onion rings and a sausage for 19 yuan, which is around 3 bucks.  and for another 2 yuan, or about 30 cents, delivered hot to my door.  Compare that!!!

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.10  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  zuksam @2.1.6    one month ago

I went to a Gelson's last week.  A one inch top sirloin was 71 dollars.  Grant you, their meat is of the highest quality but there was no damned way I would ever pay that much unless it was a Kobe steak.  I opted for some fresh carved tri tip and a huge smoked turkey leg.  I paid 22 bucks for the two which I considered reasonable.

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
2.1.11  zuksam  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.10    one month ago

22 bucks isn't bad, since they sell a 71 dollar steak I'm sure it's a nice place.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.12  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  zuksam @2.1.11    one month ago

I plan to go back when I have more time to explore.  I will try the fresh carved prime rib next time.  The thing that was amazing about the tri tip was that it was cooked so well with seasonings that I did not need salt after.

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Principal
3  Kathleen    one month ago

I have to put plenty of ketchup on those fries...

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Masters Principal
3.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Kathleen @3    one month ago

Is that a condiment compliment?

 
 

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