Photo: SoraNews24
business

American businessman promises urgent flights of potatoes to Japan to ease French fry shortage

60 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

December 21 was a dark day in Japan, and not just because, as the winter solstice, it marked the low point of daylight hours. There was also an emotional darkness clouding the nation’s hearts, as on that day, McDonald’s Japan announced its decision to suspend sales of medium and large-size orders of French fries at its restaurants across the country.

For the last two years, whenever we’re deprived a source of joy, we’re quick to assume the coronavirus is to blame, and indeed, pandemic-related disruptions of the supply chain are part of the problem. The potatoes McDonald’s Japan uses for its fries are grown in the U.S. and shipped via Canadian ports, and a three-nation voyage is a difficult thing to coordinate in the current health climate. Monthlong flooding in Canada’s British Columbia, which includes Vancouver and its spud-shipping port, was also a major factor.

Eventually, the anguished cries of fry fans grew loud enough that they were heard by American businessman Ryan Peterson, who tweeted about the situation on December 23, one day before McDonald’s was halting sales of everything but small-size fry orders.

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Peterson isn’t just any businessman, though. He’s the CEO of San Francisco-based international freight forwarding/customers brokering company Flexport, which puts him in a unique position to help find a solution to Japan’s potato problem. Six days later came a follow-up announcement that Flexport will be flying three 747 loaded with potatoes to Japan to help the country cope with the crisis.

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Peterson, with tongue in cheek, joked that there had been some internal debate as to whether or not the influx of French fry ingredients should be handled by Flexport’s division that manages humanitarian relief efforts, while explaining that the potato planes are, in fact, part of Flexport’s for-profit operations.

In regard to the efficiency of shipping vegetables by air mail, Peterson explained that the planes were otherwise scheduled to make empty return flights to Japan. So rather than have them fly across the Pacific with their cargo holds empty, filling them up with something the country is undergoing a shortage of seemed like the better idea.

As for how many large-size orders of fries those potatoes can be used to make, one commenter did the conversion and came up with 2.2 million orders.

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It should be pointed out that at the same time that McDonald’s Japan announced the suspension of large and medium fry sales on December 21, the fast food chain also promised that sales of those sizes would be resuming on December 31, and no change to that timeline has been made. McDonald’s Japan has also not made any public statement that it is the recipient of the Flexport potatoes, especially considering that Peterson’s first tweet about Japan’s potato shortage not appearing until December 23, Flexport may or may not be the specific spud savior responsible for putting medium and large fries back on the McDonald’s Japan menu. On the other hand, Peterson not talking about the situation until the 23rd doesn’t preclude the possibility that someone else at Flexport was already taking point on the deal before the CEO’s involvement in the project and initial tweet.

In any case, a secured buyer seems like it’d be a prerequisite for those potatoes to be flying to Japan, so odds are they’ll be frying, either at McDonald’s or another restaurant, very soon.

Source: Twitter/@typesfast via Bloomberg Japan via Golden TimesMcDonald’s Japan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- McDonald’s Japan to suspend sales of medium and large-size fries for one week

-- Burger chain Lotteria trolls McDonald’s Japan’s potato shortage with pithy sign

-- A farewell to fries: Twitter users document their last meal of L-size Mcdonald’s potato snacks

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

60 Comments
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ain't civilization greattttt.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Awesome I hate vegetables other than french fries

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Personally I don't like French Fries and prefer Chips.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Like on packets of cigarettes, a health warning should be adding the McDonalds French fry packaging. A special tax as well. As a matter of fact, why not outlaw McDonalds? Mos is much tastier but if one is put off by the high prices, as I am, Lotteria is still better than McDonalds.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

Burger King is better than McDonald’s. If a restaurant puts onions inside the meat like Mos or Lotteria, then it’s not a hamburger. It’s a sliced meatloaf sandwich. LOL

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Not a good addiction to having and crying over French fries no wonder people here are gaining weight.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Wait, you mean to say there are actual potatoes in McDonalds French fries?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Who says there’s no Santa Claus. - First, the “FamilyMart 2021 Christmas Chicken Shortage Crisis” was averted and now this ‘American Angel’ to the rescue.

“Ryan Peterson IS CEO of San Francisco-based international freight forwarding/customers brokering company Flexport, which puts him in a unique position to help find a solution to Japan’s potato problem. Six days later came a follow-up announcement that Flexport will be flying three 747 loaded with potatoes to Japan to help the country cope with the crisis.” -

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Another win for “Corporate Japan”. Now, who will come to the aid of Japan’s underpaid, ‘working poor’ ?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Never thought I’d see the day Japan needed to receive food aid. Things are bleak.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I have more J potato's that I can wave a stick at

Seriously, boil, fry twice etc etc

I cultivate my own potato's year in, year out. the メークイン potatoes need to boiled to the last minute then roasted.

Or cut, chipped, boiled then fried twice.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The 'French' was dropped off fries decades ago because of the French nuclear teasting in the Pacific.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Oh how healthy. lol

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Who really cares about the lowest type of food product that can be purchased in Japan?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yawn. There's plenty of other places to eat salted carbohydrates in this country.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Wait, you mean to say there are actual potatoes in McDonalds French fries?

90% vegetable oil.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I’m very interested how the supply chain, bio security rules will adapt to a random plane full of potato’s landing. Has all the paperwork been done? Is there storage space set aside? Has JA approved this?

So many ways this could cause confusion.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

flying in fries. Doesn’t seem like the “greenest” option?…

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Went to Miki D's the other day I wanted to buy 1 med-sized fries and they told me I couldn't because of this policy, sm fries only but I could buy 2 sm fries separately which technically works out to be the same thing as 1 med. which is what they suggested, but whoever thought of this idea, didn't quite think this one through.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

What i want to know is why are we even importing potatoes from the other side of the world when there are dozens of other nations closer to us that also sell potatoes. Which are way closer and cheaper!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Thee's a shortage of spuds in Japan? I hadn't noticed. What's wrong with Japanese spuds?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The 'French' was dropped off fries decades ago because of the French nuclear teasting in the Pacific.

Yes, and don't forget about "Freedom Fries" after the French decision not to join the US and the UK in invading Iraq.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

They will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks by which point they will be rotten but that’s Japan for you

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Thank god. The pathetic media obsessed drones will be pleased

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A waste of money.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Ah, but will protectionist measures allow it without massive tariffs, you know, to protect potato growers in Hokkaido?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I think the small size is perfect if you care about your health, but every trip you make to Mac your health is out the door.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

CanonFolderToday  05:13 pm JST

Personally I don't like French Fries and prefer Chips.

They are chips in some parts of the world.

stickman1760Today  08:13 pm JST

They will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks by which point they will be rotten but that’s Japan for you

They are potatoes, not people.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

With so much really good food in this country, I cannot understand why people eat plastic crap like MacDonalds et al.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Alternate title: Flying fries for fatter size?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Obiously Japanese are overly obsess with McDonnald French fries that they eat more then what can be produced and this is not the first time they had to regulate and say we only server small size due to an outage of potatoes. Calabee the chip maker in Japan has most of the potatoe market in Japan and yet they dont run out of potatoes to make chips. either way eating french fries and Potatoes all the time is hearth disease. Moderation guys.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Personally I don't like French Fries and prefer Chips.

Well, I prefer tortilla chips and salsa, but gotta have fries with burgers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks by which point they will be rotten but that’s Japan for you

Potatoes, like onions, apples and many other fresh foods you eat, are commonly stored for up to a year.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

‘American Angel’ to the rescue.

A pathetic way of romanticizing business opportunism, it's just a business trade.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

First world problem.

OTOH, driving home on Xmas, we did get 3 HUGE french fry servings. 1 from McDs and 2 from a regional competitor. Neither were all that good, but we just wanted some snacks for the long drive. The only reason for McDs was that the other place was drive-thru only and we REALLY needed a toilet break. Buying some fries seemed reasonable for the trade.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There's no shortage of potatoes in Japan. McDonald's ran out of product because they import bags of cut and processed french fries from North America.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good to know that at least French Fries will always be able to enter the country

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Given the constant parade of 'crises' we see in the media daily, 'dementia' has to set in at some point and here we are...provided happily by McD's marketing/advert department to sell the single worst potato product, certainly 'fries', of any in the world. And, with that in mind, how is it that no Japanese innovator has, unless I missed it, as yet marketed 'potato ice cream'? Given some of the other combos I've seen advertised, it seems a 'natural'...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 'French' was dropped off fries decades ago because of the French nuclear teasting in the Pacific.

From experience I cannot think of anyplace but the US that calls them anything other than "chips" in English. Only Americans call chips "French fries". What Yanks call potato chips the rest of the world calls potato crisps.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oooh, Berlin had the Airlift, and now Tokyo has its "Spudlift". Will the pilots toss candies out the windows as they fly over?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let’s share Carbs and make the world Fat again.

rice for potatoes’

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Keep the Potato Flowing !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What Yanks call potato chips the rest of the world calls potato crisps.

Continental Europe might just disagree with you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Continental Europe might just disagree with you.

What do you call French fries/chips and potato chips/crisps in continental Europe? They weren't even called French fries in France when I last visited. I have learned through experience that American words for many foods are unique to the US and used nowhere else, at least in the English speaking world. I still laugh remembering trying to explain to a grocery store stocker in the produce department that I was looking for a bell pepper. A what? Oh, capsicum. Sigh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

mcdonlds basically screws the farmers down to the lowest possible price and locks them into long term contracts! shameless business model but obviously it works...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With so much really good food in this country, I cannot understand why people eat plastic crap like MacDonalds et al.

Most people go for the fries. You can talk crap about the rest, but the fries are legendary, that goes without saying, but Japan can use their own potatoes in the meantime.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

... but every trip you make to Mac your health is out the door.

Rubbish. McDonald’s can be integrated into a healthy diet without ruining your health. A re-feed day as part of a bodybuilding diet (not the best option but there are worse), a reward for reaching a weight-loss goal, or a treat after meticulous calorie counting for a (month), or if you want to bulk up for a sport. It can also serve as a quick meal if you’re short on time, a cheap meal if budget is a concern, or quick dirty carbs before a workout and so-on. The key is not to eat it every day. And obviously it’s no less healthy than any other fast food option.

I eat fast food (most often McDonald’s) about once a fortnight, and at last check my body fat percentage was at 12 per cent. At the lower end of ideal for my age.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not all heroes wear capes

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I know little of Japanese cuisine, but was curious. Did the Japanese eat fries before MacDonald's existed?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Crazy, sweet potatoes are better.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No potato shortage at Mini Stop for their awesome fried potatoes.

Now, they just need more Mini Stops.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cricky

Never thought I’d see the day Japan needed to receive food aid. Things are bleak.

Not sure I would classify junk-chain burger fries as "food". But OK....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"ain't civilization greattttt."

And crispy :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Never thought I’d see the day Japan needed to receive food aid. Things are bleak."

Back in the day it was worse. My mother, back in the 50s and 60s (she was born in 1933), used to contribute to an organization that specifically sent money to help Japanese children in need. I still have a thank you card one of these children sent to her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Crazy, sweet potatoes are better.

Sweet potato fries are good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Exactly what Japan doesn't need is more GMO freedom fries for the Mac Donalds franchise food industry that's negatively impacted the health of Japanese people.

USA food is void of nutrition and absolute crap .

Japanese food is excellent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People are such scolds and killjoys around here. The man clearly deserves a Nobel Prize for Humanitarian Deeds.

Oh, and what the Brits call "chips" are called "fries" in Canada as well. No Commonwealth solidarity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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