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McDonald’s rents cargo jets to fix french fry shortage in Japan

Logistics provider Flexport arranges for airfreight to speed delivery of potatoes

McDonald's turn to its logistics provider Flexport to airlift potatoes to its stores in Japan where supplies were short. (Photo: Shutterstock/8th.creator)

Third-party logistics provider Flexport has chartered three Boeing 747 freighters to rush potatoes to Japan where McDonald’s stores are experiencing a shortage of french fries because of ocean shipping delays.

The fast-food chain last week said it was using airfreight to get around the import delays, but declined to provide any details. On Wednesday, Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen announced on Twitter that the company is helping McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) by arranging an emergency airlift of spuds from North America.

McDonald’s Japan division said it is temporarily limiting the sale of medium- and large-size french fries in Japan because of delays loading vessels at the Port of Vancouver, which has experienced significant reductions in freight rail and truck traffic after flooding and landslides in British Columbia during mid-November. Although the CN and Canadian Pacific railroads have reopened rail lines serving the port, they are not operating at full capacity and certain highways remain washed out.

At one point earlier this month, the Vancouver port authority reported 60 vessels, including nine container vessels, were waiting for a berth. Officials say port operations and cargo recovery have recently stabilized.

A Flexport spokesperson declined to provide details about the arrangements for transporting the potatoes for McDonald’s. Bloomberg first reported Flexport’s involvement in arranging the air transport for McDonald’s.

The restaurant said french fries in small sizes are still available.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]