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It's a sign of the Apocalypse. McDonald's has been forced to ration french fries in Japan, offering customers only small-size portions amid a shortage of the deep-fried delights.
The chain is importing more than 1,000 tons of frozen fries by air, which began arriving last Monday and had begun routing another 1,600 tonnes through ports on the U.S. East Coast which should begin arriving in late January. Those steps alone, however, are not sufficient to prevent a shortage. "Unfortunately without this sales restriction step, we would run the danger of running out of fries at some of our stores around the end of the year or beginning of the new year," said McDonald's Japan spokeswoman Kokoro Toyama. Why the shortage? Container ports along the U.S. West Coast have been experiencing severe delays since October, in part due to lengthy labor talks between 20,000 dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators and shipping lines at 29 West Coast ports. A shortage of tractor-trailer chassis used for hauling cargo from the ports to warehouses, record levels of imports into the United States, rail service delays and the advent of super-sized container vessels delivering greater cargo volumes have also contributed to the problem.