Preparations to grow a special strain of potatoes required by McDonald’s to make french fries for its planned Israeli restaurants are under way, Agriculture Minister Ya’acov Tsur said Wednesday.
The work is being coordinated by the ministry at experimental fields in the Negev desert.
Tsur disclosed that “by the time December comes, we will have produced some 60 tons of the proper strain of potato required by McDonald’s.
“This is twice the amount they told us they expect to use in the beginning months,” he said.
McDonald’s has said the type of potatoes currently grown in Israel are not up to the standards it needs for its french fries.
The ministry’s director-general, Yonatan Basi, confirmed that intense pressure had been brought to bear on Israel to change its position and allow the importation of processed potatoes for the fast-food chain’s french fries.
A personal letter from U.S. Ambassador William Harrop to this effect was delivered to Tsur while the minister was at a meeting with senior officers of the agriculture and industry and trade ministries, discussing the hot potato issue.
But the agriculture minister stood firm in his opposition to potato imports, stressing that the ministry would only support the importation of food products to satisfy market needs in the event of a shortage.
He is due to meet with Industry and Trade Minister Micha Harish to reach a decision on whether or not to allow potato imports.
Harish supports importation of McDonald’s strain of potatoes because postponement of McDonald’s plans for entry into Israel, as threatened by the American chain’s headquarters, would disrupt plans for the hiring of more than 600 people to work in the five restaurants the chain plans to open in its first year of licensed operations.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.