Who moved my tomato? McD’s stares at shortage

NEW DELHI: Patrons of McDonald’s will have to do without tomatoes in their burgers for now, as some of the fast-food giant’s India outlets have dropped it from their menu, citing “non-availability” of high-grade tomatoes.
Consumers took to Twitter on Friday to report the missing veggie, at a time when prices of tomatoes have been on the boil. Tomato prices have soared almost 1.4 times to Rs 123/kg in Delhi. The average price across India was estimated at Rs 100/kg, against Rs 45 a year ago, according to consumer affairs ministry data.
Aditya Shah, a Sebi-registered investment adviser, posted an image of a McDonald’s store in Delhi notifying customers about “temporary unavailability” of tomatoes.
“Despite our best efforts, we are not able to get adequate quantities of tomatoes which pass our stringent quality checks,” read the notice issued by the management at Connaught Plaza Restaurants (


), which runs the McDonald’s north and east India outlets.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s north and east said the unavailability of tomatoes was not related to the surge in the prices of the item.
McDonald’s west and south India outlets run by

Westlife Foodworld

said the firm was not facing any “serious” tomato-related issue but 10-15% of its stores did have to stop serving tomatoes temporarily. “During the monsoon season, fruit flies are a common annoyance. Every day, fresh tomatoes arrive at our stores. If a flaw is found in any batch, it is discarded. This is a seasonal problem that the restaurant and food industry has to face every monsoon,” a company spokesperson said.

“Due to seasonal crop issues arising out of farm fields in a few regions, there are not enough quantities meeting our quality specifications available. To ensure our customers get the best quality we are known to serve, we are constrained to hold tomatoes for the time being,” McDonald’s north and east said , adding that outlets in Punjab and Chandigarh continue to serve tomatoes in the menu.
“We are working towards resolving this issue by employing sustainable agriculture practices including hydroponically grown tomatoes in completely controlled environment to de-risk our requirements from vagaries of seasons,” the spokesperson said.
When contacted, the company refused to share lists of restaurants and specific regions in north and east that are facing the problem. Other fast-food chains, however, maintained that tomatoes remain part of their offering.

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