Tomatoes have been taken off the menu in India as Burger King joins the ranks of fast food chains affected by the escalating costs of this culinary essential.
Last month, McDonald’s (MCD) revealed that many of its outlets across the nation would temporarily omit tomatoes from their burgers, citing quality concerns and supply shortages.
Presently, Burger King’s Indian branches are stating that they are “unable to include tomatoes.”
In a section dedicated to frequently asked questions on its website, Burger King reassured its customers that tomatoes would return soon, attributing their current absence to “unpredictable conditions affecting the quality and supply of tomato crops.”
It remains unclear whether the omission of tomatoes will apply to all outlets or only a selection.
Burger King’s resolution follows the decision of India’s central bank to revise its inflation projection for the ongoing fiscal year to 5.4% from the prior 5.1%, highlighting the mounting costs of specific foods in the world’s most populous country.
“Moving ahead, the surge in vegetable prices, particularly tomatoes, will exert significant upward pressure on short-term headline inflation trends,” the bank stated.
Subway also announced last week that its Indian branches would levy an additional charge of 30 rupees ($0.40) for a cheese slice in most sandwiches, according to Reuters.
Regarding tomatoes, Indian cuisine is inconceivable without this ubiquitous fruit. Nonetheless, this cherished ingredient is becoming increasingly unattainable for many.
Tomato prices in India have surged by over 400% in recent months due to crop failures resulting from scorching heatwaves and heavy rains, as noted by farmers and agricultural experts, although prices have somewhat moderated in August.
A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tomatoes in India’s capital, New Delhi, is currently priced at 107 rupees ($1.29), a stark escalation from the 27 rupees ($0.33) recorded in January, according to data from the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The elevated prices are partially attributed to extreme weather patterns associated with climate change, as explained by Jocelyn Boiteau, a postdoctoral associate at the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition.
According to Boiteau, only a few regions in the southern part of India have favorable conditions for cultivating tomatoes during the summer months, hence any “climate-related challenges” in these areas can have a nationwide impact on the availability of fresh tomatoes.
This summer, the country has experienced both unprecedented levels of rainfall and scorching heatwaves, underscoring how the world’s most populous nation is particularly susceptible to the consequences of the climate crisis.