McDonald’s grappling with tight supply of to-go bags, straws

McDonald’s grappling with tight supply of to-go bags, straws

August 9, 2021

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Fast-food giant McDonald’s is facing a tight supply of paper to-go bags and straws, the company has warned workers — the latest supply-chain hiccup to emerge as the shifting demands of the pandemic continue to cause headaches across industries.

McDonald’s urged restaurant owners in an internal message to limit orders of bags from suppliers because orders are running ahead of last year’s numbers, which were already high due to the surge in take-out orders from the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But in a statement to The Post, the burger chain insisted the clampdown would not affect customers.

“Despite temporary pressures in the industry, the impact to restaurants is minimal. Based on what we know today, we are confident customers should not see disruption to supply of bags or straws. We will continue to watch closely,” the company said.

However, customers are exacerbating the issue by asking for their orders in bags even if they plan to dine inside, McDonald’s reportedly said in its internal message to franchise owners.

In addition, the company acknowledged that workers who have spent the past 18 months or so stuffing orders in bags aren’t used to serving meals on trays, making the transition away from the bags that much more difficult.

“Many new crew members have never had to deal with trays before,” McDonald’s said in the late July message, according to the Journal. The “transition to using trays has been slower, more difficult because we haven’t done it in so long.”

Restaurant sales at national chains have recovered from their pandemic bottoms, with take-out and delivery sales seeing particularly strong growth as the pandemic re-shaped consumer habits.

That surge is driving up demand for paper to-go bags across the restaurant industry.

Shipments for unbleached bag and sack paper were up 12 percent in 2020 from the year prior, the Journal reported, citing data from the American Forest and Paper Association.

The causes of tightness in the supply of straws are varied and different from that of paper to-go bags, according to the Journal.

One of McDonald’s US straws suppliers is running low due to a labor shortage, rail disruptions, wildfires on the West Coast and resin outages, the Journal reported, citing a message from McDonald’s to restaurant owners.

It’s just the latest example of shortages throughout the pandemic-recovery economy, which has been largely defined by a nationwide labor shortage, transportation hiccups and surging demand for certain products that have led to unmatched supply.

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