Japan in the middle of the fries war

The French fries war intensifies in Japan amid disruptions in potato supply circuits. It is not without irony that the Japanese fast-food chain Freshness Burger launched, on Friday January 14, a campaign titled “Potatoes, there are! », offering 25% larger portions of fries until February 27, at the same price.

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The decision of the sign born in 1992 in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, sounds like a snub for the giants of fast food, starting with McDonald’s. Faced with a shortage of potatoes, the local subsidiary of the American brand suspended on January 9, and for one month, the sale of all portions of fries, with the exception of the S, the smallest, in all of its 2,900 restaurants. She had already done so in December.

A tense situation

His choice sparked heated debate. Presenter Akiko Wada launched on the TBS channel: “Why not buy three sizes S? », provoking a call on the Internet to severely regulate the sale of portions of fries. Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of the popular crowdfunding site 2Channel, called McDonald’s strategy “promotional campaign that worked very well. The management must be delighted.”

McDonalds, KFC and other fast food chains source their fries primarily from North America

He forgot that in October 2021, the Japanese branch of KFC experienced a similar problem. The group has stopped the sale of fries in 20% of its restaurants. The Japanese brands Mos Burger and Lotteria claim to have the necessary stocks but admit a tense situation.

The case illustrates the risks associated with supply chains. Freshness Burger can play the big lords because the group buys its potatoes from farmers in Hokkaido, in northern Japan, where it gets its hokkai kogane, a variety presented on its site as “Created especially for french fries. The outside is crispy, the inside soft.

Conversely, McDo, KFC and other fast food chains bring their fries mainly from North America. The potatoes are processed in the United States and Canada, where they are frozen, before being sent to Japan from Vancouver. However, the activity of the Canadian port was affected in November 2021 by heavy rains, floods and landslides, causing the cessation of deliveries. The situation is complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused staffing problems.

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