South Korean burger chains are struggling to please their customers amid a nationwide shortage of fresh tomatoes. Burger chain Lotteria has even started to serve burgers without tomatoes, for which they've reduced the price by 300 won ($0.26). McDonald's offers customers a free-drink coupon in exchange for tomato-deprived burgers. Burger King, the first fast-food chain to announce difficulties procuring tomatoes, has been compensating with more lettuce, onions and pickles.
Burger franchises have stated it’s the first time in history that they've served burgers without tomatoes. The prolonged heavy rainfall that coincided with the blossoming of tomato plants caused the crops to get less sunlight than usual. Also, several powerful typhoons that occurred this summer have knocked down plants in the main tomato producing regions of Chuncheon, Cheorwon and Hwacheon in Gangwon.
Koreajoongangdaily.joins.com reports on the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation stating that the wholesale price of 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of tomatoes was about 62,660 won as of Sept. 25, a 110 percent hike compared to a month earlier. Prices were up by 99.6 percent compared with a month earlier.