Many McDonald’s stores in India have dropped tomato from their menu for the time being. Social media was also abuzz with users sharing photo of the notices put up by the stores. The stores however have not attributed it to the recent price surge of the vegetable.
“Despite our best efforts, we are no able to get adequate quantities of tomatoes which pass our world class stringent quality checks. Hence for the time being, we are forced to serve you products without tomatoes. We are working to get the tomato supplies back,” a notice displayed at the outlet by Connaught Plaza Restaurants said.
McDonald’s is present in India through two master franchisees – Sanjeev Agrawal-led MMG group for north and east India and Westlife Group led by BL Jatia for west and south.
A McDonald’s India, North and East, spokesperson said that tomato has been dropped from menu not due to the surge in the prices and the company is trying to bring it back into the menu soon. “It is only due to non-availability of tomatoes meeting our quality specifications. We would like to bring to your notice that restaurants mostly in Punjab-Chandigarh area where we are able to source adequate quantities, we continue to serve tomatoes in our menu.”
“Due to seasonal crop issues arising out of farm fields in a few regions, there are not enough quantities meeting our quality specifications available. To ensure our customers get the best quality we are known to serve, we are constrained to hold tomatoes for the time being,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company is “working towards resolving this issue by employing sustainable agriculture practices including hydroponically-grown tomatoes in completely controlled environment to de-risk requirements from vagaries of season.”
Westlife group, the McDonald’s franchisee for India’s western and southern regions, with 357 restaurants, said there were “no serious tomato-related issues”. The problem was seasonal and forced 10% to 15% of its stores to stop serving tomatoes temporarily, it said.
The price of tomato has spiked across the country due to tight supplies caused by rainfall in many parts. Prices were ruling around Rs 150 per kg in many cities. A check on online grocery and vegetable platform Blinkit showed that tomato prices were quoting around Rs 160 a kg. Normally, tomato prices spike during July-August as harvesting and transportation of highly perishable commodity supplies get affected due to monsoon.
The high prices this year have also been attributed to the sudden temperature increase in March and April that resulted in pest attacks on tomato crops, leading to decreased yields and higher market rates.
In 2016, when tomato prices had spiked in some parts of India, many McDonald’s stores in India had sliced off the vegetable from its menu.
The average cost of a vegetable and a non-vegetable thali, which were on a decline since October 2022, increased in May and June on a sequential basis following soaring tomato and other vegetable prices, a report from market intelligence
and analytics firm Crisil said. “The cost of veg and non-veg thali alike, on the decline since October 2022, nosed up on a sequential basis in May and further in June 2023. Elevated prices of tomato month-on-month in June led to this increase,” Crisil’s monthly indicator of food plate cost revealed.