McDonald's out of fries in Venezuela as tight currency controls worsen food shortages

Guy Bentley
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McDonald's becomes the latest victim of Venezuelan food shortages (Source: Getty)

Things have got so bad in Venezuela that the Golden Arches have to serve up fried yuca instead of French fries.

McDonald's 100 franchises in the oil-dependent state have totally run out of potatoes, forcing them to substitute with regional staples like yuca and maize arepas.

Latin America's biggest McDonald's franchise holder Arcos Dorados is now offering "100 per cent Venezuelan" alternatives, according to the AP.

McDonald's lays the blame for the shortage at the door of a dispute with West Coast dock workers. Last month, Japan suffered days of shortages of French fries thanks to the dispute. However, dock workers are unlikely to be the only culprits. If they were, it would be difficult to explain why other franchises across Latin America are not suffering similar shortages to those seen in Venezuela.

Speaking to the AP, John Toaspern, chief marketing officer with the US Potato Board, said Venezuela's imports of frozen potatoes collapsed long before the dispute with the dockers could take effect.

During the first 10 months of 2014, the country imported just 14 percent of the frozen fries from major McDonald's supplier Washington State that it brought in for the same period the year before, according to federal data compiled by the board.

Rival fast food chain Burger King took to Twitter to tell Venezuelans they still had French fries galore:

Translation: Reasons for smiling: French fries :D (They are not exactly breakfast but... They are delicious! :D)

The policy of strict currency controls championed by the country's socialist government has had a major impact on the availability of food in Venezuela for some time and may be playing a part in denying Venezuelans some of their favourite fast foods.

The collapsing price of oil has hit the socialist economy hard, with rating agency Fitch slashing the country's credit to CCC in December. Venezuelan oil is now only able to sell at $47 per barrel.

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