McDonald’s drops tomatoes from India offerings, recognizing quality concerns as prices surge

Restaurants of fast food chain McDonald’s have stopped adding tomatoes in their burgers and wraps in several areas of India, due to supply shortages and quality problems after prices of the vegetable soared to records. In some areas, wholesale prices of the staple of traditional Indian cuisine surged 288 per cent in a month to a high of 140 rupees (S$2.30) a kg on Friday, with retail prices still higher, spurring many people to cut back on consumption. The government accuses the extra prices of tomatoes on a lean production season when monsoon rains disturbs transport and distribution, but it comes after consumers have battled higher prices of items ranging from milk to spices in past months. “instead of our best attempts, we are not able to get appropriate quantities of tomatoes which pass our strict quality checks,” read notices posted in two McDonald’s stores in New Delhi, the capital. “We are only left with the choice of providing you products without tomatoes.”

Store managers said the problem was led by quality issues in the supply chain, rather than pricing. In a statement to media, Connaught Plaza Restaurants, which runs about 150 outlets as McDonald’s franchisee in India’s north and east, attributed the decision to “temporary” seasonal issues.. Westlife Foodworld, the McDonald’s franchisee for India’s western and southern areas, with 357 restaurants, said there were “no serious tomato-related issues”. As Indians are avoiding tomatoes, some businesses are advising alternatives. “Tomato prices running high? Cook with tomato puree instead!” explains an advertisement among the results given by a search for tomatoes on the BigBasket shopping app of the Tata conglomerate