MOSCOW (Reuters) - Excitement was on the menu when former McDonald's restaurants reopened in Russia last month under new management and branding, but the successor to the golden-arched throne has a problem: a shortage of French fries.
McDonald's quit Russia after a Western backlash against Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, which included a barrage of economic sanctions, and sold all the restaurants it owned to a local licensee in May.
The new ownership, however, now faces problems securing supplies of potatoes, blaming a poor harvest in Russia and difficulty in importing potatoes due to supply chain disruptions.
Under the new name Vkusno & tochka, or "Tasty and that's it", the restaurants started reopening on June 12, and sold almost 120,000 burgers that day.
But after customers last week began posting pictures of menus without French fries, Vkusno & tochka said it would be leaving fries and potato wedges off the menus of some of the newly opened restaurants until autumn.
It said that while it had for years focused on buying ingredients locally, it was now "impossible to import from markets that might have become temporary suppliers of potatoes".
"Potatoes will return to the chain's menu in full at the beginning of the next harvest year, autumn 2022," it said.
The shortage highlights the challenges facing Russian businesses as sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine and supply chain disruptions complicate the import of goods.
Vkusno & tochka's Chief Executive Oleg Paroev told Reuters last month that "a significant percentage" of ingredients were sourced abroad.
Despite Vkusno & tochka's problems, Russia's agriculture ministry said last week that the potato harvest would be bigger than last year's and that the market was "fully supplied with potatoes, including processed potatoes".
"The new crop is now arriving, which rules out the possibility of a shortage," it said.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Susan Fenton)