Last January, McDonald’s locations in Venezuela were forced to substitute fried Yuca, a tropical starchy root, for french fries. Due to intense currency control measures, the importation of potatoes was too complicated. After ten months, french fries made from potatoes have made their way back to Mickey D’s fryers, but at a major cost to consumers in the recession stricken nation. According to Fusion, due to the strict currency restrictions and skyrocketing inflation rates, a large order of fries at Venezuelan McDonalds costs $133. No bullshit.
Fortune Magazine (which values the large fries at $126) writes:
That’s a conversion from the 800 bolivars sticker price, according to a report by Fusion. A small-sized fries is only marginally cheaper at 500 bolivars, which translates to $79 according to the country’s current exchange rate. Even at a much more affordable black-market rate, one large fries would still cost nearly 9% of a person’s monthly wage, which is precipitously low in Venezuela.
Since it is still too difficult to import potatoes, the Golden Arches is sourcing their new fries from Venezuelan farms. The currency control said to be the cause of this dilemma is described by Fusion:
For the past decade, the socialist run nation has been implementing strict currency exchange controls that prevent people from taking their money out of the country. These government imposed limitations on banking, also stop companies from purchasing dollars at a decent rate without government approval, stalling imports of all sorts of basic goods, from milk to chicken, to potatoes and toilet paper.
Venezuela also experiences the largest inflation rate in the world, by far. This crisis is attributed to the falling prices of crude oil, which accounts for 95% of the country’s export revenue. Fortune writes:
The Central Bank of Venezuela has refrained from publishing consumer price index figures for 2015, and with good reason. By December 2014, Venezuela reported that annual inflation had reached 68.5%. To put that in perspective, the closest continental compatriots are Uruguay with a 8.9% rate, and Brazil at 6.3% rate, according to the International Monetary Fund.
By these same rates, a rotisserie chicken that costs 1,390 bolivars is equal to $219. If Venezuelans are very hard-pressed to eat McDonald’s, they may just have to opt for the “McDuo” menu option. This is a combo that just includes the burger, fish sandwich or nuggets with a drink and no fries.