FDI vote: A war on McDonald's potatoes in Parliament

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 18:28 hrs

New Delhi: For the last two days the Lok Sabha debated the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail before voting in favour of the government on Wednesday evening. The Opposition's stand is that the foreign investment would destroy the livelihoods of the farmers and do little to generate employment. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, to reiterate this claim threw in the potato in the debate.

Sushma on Tuesday claimed that McDonald's imports potatoes into India and because of that the produce of the country's farmers goes to waste.

"Ask McDonald's about their fries. They never buy potatoes from Indian farmers, saying their potatoes are too small," Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said in a debate, seeking a ban on foreign equity in multi-brand retail trade.

Congress MP from Rohtak, Deepender Hooda on Wednesday trashed her claim that McDonald's is sourcing potatoes for their french fries from the US.

He said in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat, McDonald's sources its potatoes from farmers in the state.

"I will show you large potato, 12 to 24 inches, that our farmers grow, which are sourced by McDonald's and Pepsico. When these potatoes arrive by bagfuls, then the BJP says it has come from the US," the Congress MP said.

"Even McDonald's was shocked at what Sushmaji said and came out with a press statement to say they buy most potatoes from India. We found out where McDonald's buys it's potatoes from - most come from Gujarat. That state has the most McDonald's stores. But as soon as this potato comes out of the ground, BJP is quick to term it as American," he added.

McDonald's, meanwhile, has been quick to issue a statement saying the potatoes are sourced from India.

The Indian arm of US fast food giant McDonald's on Wednesday sought to dispel the notion that the potatoes for its popular French fries were being imported from abroad, saying it has stood by its commitment to source all ingredients locally.

"Before setting up its business in India, McDonald's made a commitment to the government on local sourcing of its entire raw material requirement," Vikram Bakshi, the managing director of McDonald's India (North and East), said in a statement.

"We confidently and proudly state that ingredients used in our products are sourced locally, that includes the French fries," Bakshi said, a day after it was alleged in parliament that the fast food giant was importing its potatoes.

"Being committed to quality, we have stringent standards for the kind of potatoes we use for French Fries - they have to be of a certain length, have high solids content and low moisture content," said the fast food giant.

"When we began developing our business in India, there were no process-grade potato varieties available in India. Only table grade variety of potato was grown. We, along with our supplier, McCain, have worked closely with farmers in Gujarat to produce process-grade potato varieties," it said.

"These are mainly contract farmers in Deesa (North Gujarat) and Kheda (Central Gujarat). We continue to contribute in the growth of these farmers. McDonald's remains steadfast to its commitment of working with local suppliers and farmers to source all its requirements in India."

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