Stock up on frozen bags of French fries now because there's a French fry shortage heading for the United States. This is not a drill, folks. The potatoes have failed us.
You should probably grab as many large fries as you can with your order of the new McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich because soon there won't be any more. Or at least maybe not as many. And we have this year's potato crop to blame.
Why is there going to be a shortage of French fries?
According to CNN, the potato harvest season in the United States and Canada has been particularly cold and wet this year, which means that many farmers were not able to harvest a "significant portion of their crop."
But of course, the demand for potatoes hasn't waned a bit. How many tables at Thanksgiving do you know that didn't have mashed potatoes or some other form of potato on it? So now, according to CNN, "processors across North America are rushing to find potatoes from additional sources to keep up with the increasing demand for fries."
Fries are delicious, and I don't know what we would do without them. The U.S. is the fifth largest producer of potatoes in the entire world. Idaho is known for the spuds, but potatoes are grown in almost every single state. This year, though, potato production is down a significant amount — 6.1 percent, the lowest it's been since 2010.
Are we going to have to go back to eating the amount of potatoes we ate 10 years ago? I sure hope not! Production in the U.S. is down, but it's also not doing too well in Canada. This is bad news for French fry eaters everywhere, but it's worse for the potato farmers who rely on those crops.
Will there really be a French fry shortage?
Well, if the potatoes aren't coming from the U.S. or Canada, factories that supply potatoes to stores and restaurants might have to find their potatoes elsewhere or import them.
However, CNN reports that this news probably won't actually affect your accessibility to French fries too much and that fast food prices aren't likely to change. Stephen Nicholson, a grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabo AgriFinance, told CNN, "[Fast food restaurants] look at that menu board as sacrosanct. They don't want to change that menu board unless they absolutely have to."
So McDonald's fries might be safe for now, but that doesn't mean that prices won't go up at places like local restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. Even so, the price increase will most likely be so minimal that most regular consumers will not even notice. Good thing our biggest potato holiday of the year is behind us at this point.
Still, it might be a good idea to stock up on a few bags of waffle fries because oh man, those things are good, and you don't want to risk it. Better safe than sorry when it comes to French fries, I always say.