McDonald’s Japan potato shortage continues to be an opportunity for competitors using local growers.

There’s a potato shortage going on in Japan. Over most of the past month and a half, customers at McDonald’s Japan have been restricted from ordering anything other than small-size orders of French fries, since the chain doesn’t have enough potatoes to keep up with the usual level of demand. The situation got even worse last week, when McDonald’s branches began announcing they’d no longer be offering hash browns either.

This has created what the Japanese Internet has dubbed “potato refugees,” as fans are forced to look elsewhere for their fried food fix that’s becoming harder to get at McDonald’s. Desperate wanderers will be happy to know that Japanese convenience store Mini Stop just so happens to have a new item for sale: hash browns.

Sure, Mini Stop calls them “Tokachi Hashed Potatoes” instead of hashed browns, and they’re bite-sized, instead of the palm-sized discs of the McDonald’s breakfast staple. But this is clearly a case of Mini Stop capitalizing on the opportunity presented by McDonald’s potato refugees, seeing as how they were announced on January 18, just a little over a week since news came of the McDonald’s hash brown suspension, and promptly went on sale the next day.

▼ The Tokachi Hashed Potatoes are part of Mini Stop’s Yamitsukicchin, or “Addictive Kitchen,” lineup, so full marks for honesty on their part.

As to how Mini Stop can casually launch its own hash browns while McDonald’s is running out of ingredients, while there are fewer potatoes than usual in Japan this winter, the number of Japanese potatoes in the country hasn’t significantly dropped. McDonald’s Japan imports it potatoes from North America, and coronavirus complications and flooding damage to the Canadian port the potatoes start their sea voyage at are the source of its shortage. The potatoes for Mini Stop’s Tokachi Hashed Potatoes, though, as their name implies, come from the Tokachi farming region of Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture, and their chain of supply is doing just fine these days.

Using Hokkaido-grown potatoes also allows Mini Stop to trumpet its use of domestic ingredients, always seen as a plus in Japanese marketing, as well as the fact that the potatoes are grown with Hokkaido Mt. Yotei Spring Water, which was “chosen as one of Japan’s 100 best waters.” Setting aside the local pride, Mini Stop also boasts that the final step in the Tokachi Hashed Potatoes’ cooking process doesn’t happen until after you order them and an employee gives them their final frying, to ensure a freshly crisp outer layer.

The Tokachi Hashed Potatoes are priced at 228 yen (US$2), and don’t worry, for those who absolutely need French fries specifically, Mini Stop has plenty of those as well.

Source: @Press via Entabe
Images: @Press
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