McDonald's India Removes Tomatoes From Menu After Massive Price Surge

For those who can't imagine having their hamburger without that classic tomato accompaniment, the McDonald's franchises in India have some bad news. According to a Reuters report, multiple restaurants will be removing tomatoes from the menu for burgers and wraps — including the popular Maharaja Mac chicken burger. The chain expressed concerns with both rising prices and low quality as the main factors behind the decision.

Tomato prices have hit an all-time high in India, with a record 288% rate of inflation recorded in one month. As of July 2023, the wholesale price for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tomatoes has jumped from 22 rupees ($0.27 USD) at the beginning of the year to 140 rupees ($1.69 USD), with the average Indian consumer paying even higher for standard retail prices. In fact, Bloomberg reports that tomato prices have soared past that of gasoline in India (around 96 rupees per liter), with some joking that it's cheaper to buy a politician than a tomato right now.

Though the Indian government claims this hike in prices comes after a tough monsoon season that disrupted the tomato harvest, others are quick to point out that there is food inflation across the board, including for items that would be unaffected by the weather.

It's a matter of quality as well

McDonald's store managers in India have predominantly blamed questionable quality, rather than high prices, as the reason for dropping tomatoes from the menu. The company that operates local McDonald's locations throughout northern and eastern India, Connaught Plaza Restaurants, claimed this is only a temporary seasonal issue. The head honchos at Westlife Foodworld who run more than 350 McDonald's franchises in the west and south have offered yet another statement, claiming in a press release that there are "no serious tomato-related issues" at this time (via Reuters). They also concur that this issue is a temporary and seasonal shortage only affecting 10% to 15% of its stores.

Whatever the cause for the tomato shortage at McDonald's India, it doesn't have any bearing on their supply of ketchup, which can still be found worldwide at the chain. As noted in the Bloomberg article, the country is expecting tomato prices to begin dropping by August, when a new wave of produce can be harvested.