More global McDonald's customers are facing french fry shortages as the supply chain continues to face strain

More global McDonald's customers are facing french fry shortages as the supply chain continues to face strain
Irene Jiang / Business Insider
  • McDonald's locations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan are all facing potato shortages.
  • Japan started rationing McDonald's french fries in December.

McDonald's French fries are a fast food staple, and they're becoming harder to get in some countries.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan all joined Japan in grappling with potato supply issues, constraining french fry availability. On January 31, McDonald's Indonesia tweeted that "Due to the limited availability of French Fries at this time," large french fries would be unavailable beginning February 2. McDonald's Malaysia posted a similar announcement to Instagram, calling it a "large sacri-fries."

A post shared by McDonald’s (@mcdonaldsmalaysia)

McDonald's Taiwan had a slightly different potato problem, running out of hash browns in early January, though french fry sales were "normal."

These announcements all came after McDonald's Japan made international headlines in December for suspending the sales of medium and large fries at all locations to ration the remaining supply. By the end of December, three US 747s were delivering loads of potatoes to Japan to alleviate the shortage, and normal sales resumed.

Issues around potato supply for the fast-food giant all come back to supply chain issues. "Import delays have occurred due to flood damage and the impact of the Corona disaster on the global distribution network," McDonald's Japan said in a statement.


A spokesperson for McDonald's Indonesia also attributed the temporary shortage to "delivery constraints of potato supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic," in quotes to local outlet Detik. He also mentioned that McDonald's has a massive supply chain serving 39,000 restaurants around the world that it can leverage to fix the problem.

Asian McDonald's restaurants largely rely on North American potato imports for french fries. Many come through the Vancouver port, which faced its "worst weather storm of the century," according to Canadian officials. Landslides and flooding from the storm shut down highways, railways, and the Vancouver Port, a major point of trade through North America. In December, ships were stuck waiting in long lines to dock, made worse by striking workers.

McDonald's said potato shortages have not been a problem for US stores.

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