McDonald’s has stopped using tomatoes in food preparations at most of its locations in northern and eastern India amid a fivefold surge in prices as adverse weather conditions have limited the crop’s output.
The global fast food chain cited the non-availability of quality products “due to seasonal crop issues” as reason for curbing tomato usage, according to a public relations spokeswoman for the company in India.
“We are working towards resolving this issue by employing sustainable agriculture practices including hydroponically-grown tomatoes in a completely controlled environment to de-risk our requirements from vagaries of season,” the representative wrote in an email.
While tomatoes usually become expensive in the lean production months of June and July, prices of the Indian household staple have spiked recently as delayed monsoons, heavy rains and hotter-than normal temperatures have impacted the country’s growing areas.
Tomatoes are used widely in cuisines across India and price jumps can trigger widespread protests similar to those caused by onions, which have literally toppled governments in the South Asian nation.
Cost fluctuations can also scramble central bank efforts to control inflation and its disproportionate impact on economically vulnerable groups, according to a study by researchers at the Reserve Bank of India published on July 6.
Tomatoes, onions and potatoes make up a small portion of the nation’s Consumer Price Index Combined basket but are major contributors to the volatility of headline inflation, the study said. A rise in their prices can lead to cost increases of other vegetables and goods, and negatively impact inflation and food security.
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