These are dark days for French fry fans in Japan. In December, McDonald’s Japan announced that it would be suspending sales of all French fry orders except smalls due to a potato shortage, and though they promised this would only last a few days, the chain has now said that the rationing will be continuing.
The sound of the resulting cries of sadness and rumbling of stomachs has apparently reached the ears of rival Japanese fast food chain Freshness Burger, and they’ve decided to declare themselves Japan’s spud saviors with a promotion simply called “We’ve Got Potatoes!”
▼ The potatoes that Freshness Burger has
As the name implies, Freshness Burger wants everyone to know that they’ve got plenty of French fry ingredients on hand, and they’re not afraid to use them. So from now until Feb 27, Freshness Burger will be increasing the amount of French fries in its regular and large-size orders, as well as its combo meals, by 25 percent. What they won’t be increasing, though, is the cost to customers, as all prices will stay exactly the same – you just get a larger potato portion.
But how is Freshness Burger able to keep its French fries flowing while McDonald’s isn’t able to meet demand? Because of where the two chains’ potatoes come from. McDonald’s potato rationing was triggered by flood damage at the port of Vancouver and pandemic-related international shipping difficulties, since it gets its potatoes from North America. Freshness Burger, on the other hand, sources its potatoes domestically, from Japan’s northern prefecture of Hokkaido, meaning it doesn’t have to worry about the infrastructure and international border crossings headaches that McDonald’s is dealing with.
After spending the last few weeks having to adjust to fewer French fries than normal, this sudden change of fortune for Japanese fry fans was cause for celebration on Twitter:
“This makes me like Freshness Burger even more. They’re expensive, but their food is really good.”
“Freshness Burger makes my favorite fries, so I’m definitely going to go get some now.”
“They wait until you place your order to start cooking the fries.”
“More fries is nice and all, but I’d rather they build more branches.”
“More fries! This is awesome! So, where’s the nearest branch? I can’t remember…”
As alluded to in the comments, Yokohama-based Freshness Burger doesn’t have anywhere close to the number of locations that McDonald’s does. They’re not exactly rare, but you’re not as likely to randomly bump into one as you will the Golden Arches, and several prefectures don’t have any Freshness Burger branches at all.
Freshness Burger is slightly on the pricy side for fast food in Japan. A large order of fries will cost you 380 yen at Freshness Burger, compared to 280 at McDonald’s, and Freshness Burger’s 540-yen Classic Burger is 150 yen more expensive than a Bic Mac.
▼ Freshness Burger’s Classic Burger
McDonald’s larger quantity needs and lower menu prices are probably both reasons why they chose to import their potatoes rather than use domestic supplies, since North American agricultural organizations tend to have better economies of scale than Japanese growers. But factor in 25 percent more fries, and Freshness Burger is by no means a bad deal, and now we wish they’d start offering hash browns too.
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