It has become one of the most sought-after treats in Britain after shortages led to a scarcity — but after just a short journey to my local McDonald’s in Downpatrick I was sipping on a chocolate milkshake without any drama.
McDonald’s is famous for its Big Macs, fries and McFlurries, as well as its classic shakes.
But chains in England, Scotland and Wales ran out of milkshakes and some soft drinks yesterday.
McDonald’s said it was “working hard” to limit the impact on deliveries and customers, so had resorted to taking some items off the menu temporarily.
It confirmed a shortage of lorry drivers was one reason behind the disruption.
The Road Haulage Association has said some 30,000 HGV tests did not take place last year because of the pandemic, adding that a “historic” shortage in drivers had been exacerbated by Brexit.
McDonald’s is just one of a number of businesses to have reported problems with supplies because of the driver shortage due to new UK immigration rules and Covid restrictions.
Last week Nandos was forced to close around 50 restaurants because of a shortage of chicken due to supply problems.
The BBC reported McDonald’s is actually one of the biggest drinks retailers in the UK, but faced with these supply chain issues had decided to forfeit popular drinks to prioritise popular food items.
This is apparently “because every element of the burger needs to be present in the production line, those deliveries are being secured. Bottled drinks can sit in a warehouse much longer without going out of date”.
As we near the end of the summer, the timing couldn’t be worse for McDonald’s in Britain. But for the chains operating in Northern Ireland, we needn’t worry.
Downpatrick customers were lining up at fast food chain yesterday ready to order their favourite food and beverages without a worry in the world.
When asked how it felt to be one of the few people in the UK to be able to purchase a McDonald’s milkshake, David Fitzpatrick told the Belfast Telegraph that “it felt great”.
“It is very rewarding to think that people in England and Wales and Scotland can’t get a milkshake and we can — tough luck, guys!” he said.
David said sometimes he likes to make milkshakes at home, but it’s a treat to purchase them at McDonald’s.
Belfast woman Sara Moore, who now lives in the town, said strawberry was her favourite flavour of milkshake, and that she loved the drink whether the weather was hot or cold.
She added she “couldn’t imagine having to get a plane or a boat over to get a milkshake”.
Another fan, Laura Tumelty, admitted to driving all the way to Downpatrick to get one of the drinks after she’d heard that some Belfast restaurants had actually sold out.
John O’Reilly, who was taking his grandson Conan to McDonald’s as a treat, admitted that if milkshakes were not available to purchase “it would be very sad for him”.
“He loves the milkshakes,” he added.