Your recent trip to your favorite fast-food joint to get your usual big order of french fries might have felt, as expressed in Filipino, *bitin* and we totally agree with you. You are not alone. The glaring withdrawal of large-sized portions of french fries, among other potato sides was met with shock and awe by a multitude of netizens restrained from their potato addictions as read from these posts:
Mga bebvs, totoo nga ang balita na may french fries shortage sa mga fastfood. Yung mag-oorder palang ako knina sa Jollibee may disclaimer na kaagad yung cashier na wala silang fries today at least avail ang Tuna Pie. 😅
— chai buot (@Chaibeee) April 20, 2022
HOOY!! Ramdam na dito sa Bacolod ang potato shortage sa French fries ng Mcdo. Regular-sized fries na lang ang inooffer sa lahat ng Grab Mcdo branches at Food panda, why naman ganon. 🥺🥺🥺🍟
— Sai Lopez (@iAmSairyl07) April 21, 2022
what’s with the mcdo french fry shortage? i am not happy
— Yuan (@changciaoannn) April 18, 2022
SKL: Kaya pala wala nang large and bff fries sa mcdo and jumbo and large fries sa jabee is because of the global potato shortage haixt 😢
— gab (@FranciswithaG16) April 17, 2022
is the ph having a shortage of potatoes halos lahat ng fast food wala ng french fries, mash potatoes???
— Jon-Michael Castillo (@JonMichaelVin) April 17, 2022
And like many curious food enthusiasts, we embarked on an investigation of our own. Bring out the potato chips, the dip, and the cola—it’s about to get really serious.
In the earlier months of this year, international news agencies (A Growing Global Potato Shortage is Affecting French Fries, Washington Post), (French Fry Shortages Go Global on Supply Chain Disruption, Bloomberg) have reported a noticeable disruption in the production of this best-loved tuber from local to international shores. Alas, as many of us would soon discover, the shortage is a global problem! Now before you make placards and rally on the streets, you might want to read how the potato problem came to be.
- Snarls in the Global Supply Chain
Like the twisted curly fry, you’ll think to want to order after this ode to our starchy staple, the global supply chain is a twirly web of passages from one location to another. And with many countries taking care not to let in just about anyone or anything, gaps slow down the process, making the global supply chain unable to keep up with everyone, and we mean everyone around the world’s potato cravings.
- Stricter Customs Practices
No nation has loosened its trade controls yet due to the ongoing pandemic situation. And you have got to thank countries for being careful with that. The constantly evolving coronavirus is one heck of a problem and governments are ensuring that food safety and sanitation are of utmost concern. With this in mind, we are not too desperate to take in bad potatoes—we want them salty, crisp, and regarded to the highest standards.
- Limited Ship Transports
More people being held up in ports and getting sick mean fewer boats to transport our dear tubers. The Covid-19 pandemic truly is a huge factor on why restaurants and food companies have a huge delay in their order of huge tubs of mashed potatoes. Also, many potato products are frozen, preserved, and rely on specific modes of transport. Such specificities need to be met and that complicates an already disrupted global supply chain.
- Weather and Climate
There is also an environmental issue that we need to discuss, tater friends. The world as we know it is experiencing a huge shift in terms of climate. Many countries producing this favored crop depend on environmental factors to ensure our spud’s taste, feel, and smell are the same and with quality. Rains, floods, and other natural calamities pose a huge dilemma to potato-producing countries.
- A Sticky Situation
If you should know, Russia and Ukraine place numbers 3 and 4 as the world’s top producers of potatoes. With the ongoing war, expect millions of tons of potatoes to be left unharvested, unpackaged, and undelivered to the rest of the world. As we pray for the safety of all global citizens, perhaps it is also time to think of alternatives—cassava chips and sweet potato fries, anyone?
Of course, nobody is telling you to give up this starchy staple. You could still go for your baked potatoes, french fries, poutine, gratin, shepherd’s pie, and other potato-based favorites from your favorite eateries and fast-food joints—just don’t expect super-sized servings anytime soon.
If your potato craving is really making you go crazy, we suggest taking the most obvious and practical route: why not make them yourself? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make french fries. You’ll even be helping local farmers by consuming their locally-grown crops. There are also the grocery-bought frozen fries that are so easy to crisp up in just a few minutes. You can even dress them up with different flavorings and ingredients just like in our recipe, Salted Egg Yolk Fries, or even attempt to do a restaurant hack like our take on Shakey’s Mojo Potatoes.
At the end of the day, don’t go limp like a soggy fry over the fact that you can’t get your large order of crispy frites. Just be glad that they’re still available albeit in regular servings.