Venezuelans not 'lovin' it' as McDonald's fries go scarce

Tue Jan 6, 2015 6:42pm EST
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By Corina Pons

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan fast-food lovers are mourning the disappearance of McDonald's golden staple: the french fry.

A recent shortage at the U.S. fast food chain comes as socialist Venezuela grapples with shortfalls of basic goods ranging from medicines to flour due to strict currency controls that stymie imports.

McDonald's restaurants are coping by replacing the spuds with salad or local fare such as fried yuca or "arepa" corn pancakes - but Golden Arches fans are none too happy about the new meal.

"Hamburgers don't go with arepas and this salad I accepted doesn't taste of anything," moaned student Indira Silva, 27, at a fast-food outlet in affluent eastern Caracas.

"I'm not coming back until the fries do."

Two cashiers at separate restaurants said fries had been missing for two weeks and that business had dropped as a result. One said french fry imports had ground to a halt for lack of hard currency.

Arcos Dorados S.A., McDonald's Corp's key operator in Latin America, did not reply to queries about whether Venezuela's Byzantine three-tiered exchange rate system was to blame.

"There is currently a temporary issue with distribution, which we are trying to resolve," said Sonia Ruseler, senior director for corporate communications at Arcos Dorados.   Continued...

People dine at McDonald's in Caracas January 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins