Fast-food giant McDonald’s recently announced store closures in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, causing a buying frenzy from hungry customers.

One McDonald’s lover went viral for filling their fridge full of burgers. Many others have started selling Big Macs online for as high as £250 ($325.96) after McDonald’s announced that it is closing its 850 branches in Russia in response to Vladimir Putin’s war. Online auction sites have also exploded with listings as people attempt to turn a profit on orders that are now unavailable in the country.

An ad for a double Big Mac, double royal, two large portions of chips, 18 McNuggets and mozzarella dippers are on sale for £255 ($332.48), with its seller claiming that the meal was “still warm.”

Russian classifieds website Avito also saw people attempting to sell bags of food, while others tried to make a profit by selling pots of sauces. One listing priced a Big Mac at £250, and another attempted to sell three bags of goods for £639 ($833.16).

However, opinions on how long cold fast food could stay fresh seem to vary wildly among the commenters.

Regarding the viral photo, one commented that the burgers could be left in the fridge and will be good for months, but another warned that day-old McDonald’s burgers no longer taste good. Others lauded the hoard as a business proposition, considering that it is impossible to buy the food on the open market.

Western sanctions pummel Russian economy

Russians have been finding it more and more difficult to get their hands on Western goods as sanctions are imposed, pummeling their economy. McDonald’s directly owns and operates most of its locations in Russia, where it has an iconic presence since opening its first restaurant in Moscow in 1990 at the end of the Cold War.

The company said it would continue paying its 62,000 employees “who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand.” In an open letter to the employees, McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempckinski stated that closing the stores for the meantime is the right thing to do.

“Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” he said, adding that it is impossible to know when they can reopen their stores in Russia. He also added that the situation is “extraordinarily challenging” for a global brand and that there are many considerations on the matter.

Russia brings in about nine percent of McDonald’s annual revenue, and as news sparked frantic scenes of fans flocking the chain’s restaurants, other companies joined in on the Russian exit, including Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric.

McDonald’s could take a big financial hit because of its closures as McDonald’s owns 84 percent of its locations in Russia, unlike other big fast-food brands that are owned by franchisees.

So far, the Chicago-based company has donated over $5 million to its employee assistance fund and other relief efforts. 

Crippling sanctions may have shocked Russian elite

A British professor said the scale of sanctions from Western companies may have shocked the Russian elite. Dr. James Rodgers, an associate professor in International Journalism at the City, University of London said: “These companies are taking these decisions now. It’s going to be pretty hard to see how they can reverse them in the short-term.”

He also said that the move is an important symbol in the way that Russia is seen by the outside world. He mentioned that the scale of the sanctions may have shocked Russia’s political elite and its leadership. However, it is preparing to try and survive on its own. Part of that means not having Western companies be represented there.

After imposing the crippling sanctions, the country is now facing the gravest economic crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

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