McDonald's Venezuela

First the french fries disappeared from the menu. Now all McDonald's in Venezuela will discontinue the iconic Big Mac due to a lack of hamburger buns in the struggling South American country.

In a statement issued Thursday, Arcos Dorados, the largest operator of McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America, said it will have to stop selling Big Macs due to a “temporary” shortage of the special middle bun that goes between the two beef patties. The company is working with local suppliers to fix the problem, the release said.

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“For the moment, we offer other products like the Quarter Pounder and the Chicken, Bacon, Onion sandwich,” the company said in a statement sent to the AFP press agency.

Venezuela is currently experiencing severe product shortages for basic goods such as rice, beef, toilet paper, and soap. Wheat is also becoming increasingly scarce; it's now common to find signs in bakeries saying there's no bread for sale.

A bakery in Caracas. Pic taken on June 27

Economists say Venezuela’s product shortages have been caused by severe price controls that have made it unprofitable for businesses to produce or import goods.

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Foreign exchange controls have also made it harder to import food into Venezuela, as companies are forced to wait for the government to allocate limited U.S. dollars.

McDonald’s in Venezuela first ran into supply shortages last year, when exchange controls made it difficult to import french fries. The company circumvented the shortages by selling yuca fries for ten months, until it found a local supplier who could provide potatoes.

McDonald's has also had to hike its menu prices as it becomes harder to source ingredients. A standard burger combo in Venezuela currently costs around $3.5 (3,500 bolivares), which makes taking the family to Mickey D's nearly impossible for the average worker, in a country where the minimum wage has sunk to a miserable $19 a month.

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Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.