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Port Disruption Hits McDonald's French Fry Supply in Japan

french fries
Usodesita / CC BY 2.0

Published Dec 22, 2021 10:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

McDonald's has announced temporary limits on portion size for its french fries at outlets in Japan, citing disruption at the Port of Vancouver, B.C. The fast-food chain relies on shipments of potatoes out of a terminal near Vancouver to supply its operations in Japan, and recent flood damage in British Columbia has interfered with the normal flow of cargo movement. 

"While it is difficult to procure raw materials in a stable manner, we have cooperated with importers and suppliers to proactively take alternative measures," said McDonald's Japan Co. Ltd. in a statement. 

The regional division is looking at alternative supply chain options, including air freight, and in the meantime it continues to provide fries to all customers. However, for now, its "McDonald's Potato" product (as it is branded in Japan) will only be availabe in the "small" size. 

The Port of Vancouver is now on the way to recovery from the severe rain and flooding that destroyed its rail connections to inland Canada in mid-November. Like all West Coast ports, it has a backlog of import cargo, but it is working through the challenges and improving its daily metrics. On Monday, it said in a statement that the impact of the flood event on its rail operations has "decreased significantly" and that its production volumes have stabilized. 

McDonald's has experienced this form of disruption before. When the U.S. West Coast dock strikes occurred in 2014, it had to limit its french fry serving size at its Japanese outlets and organize an emergency airlift to transport 1,000 tonnes of fries across the Pacific.