Tofu and fish nuggets come to McDonald’s Japan

tohfu nuggets
McDonald’s Japan rolls out Tofu-and-fish McNuggets this week. (Photo courtesy of McDonald’s Japan)

McDonald’s Japan rolled out a doppelganger of Chicken McNuggets made from tofu and minced fish on Wednesday.

According to the fast-food restaurant chain’s Japan Web site, Tofu Shin-jo McNugget is made from minced white fish, tofu, edamame, soybeans, carrots and onions. Shaped just like regular Chicken McNuggets, these tofu-and-fish nuggets taste fluffy inside and crispy outside, and come with a ginger-flavored sauce that has a “refreshing” taste. Made in Japanese factories, the tofu nuggets are available for $2.44 for four pieces.

McDonald’s has been localizing its menu items around the world: cheese quiche in Brazil, red bean pie in China, beef-less potato-patty burgers in India. A spokesman for the chain said McDonald’s Japan had already planned a summer promotion with tofu nuggets before the recent food safety scandal in China came to light. Shanghai Husi Food, owned by Illinois-based OSI Group, was accused of reselling bad meat with fake expiration dates. Shanghai Husi provided McDonald’s Japan with 20 percent of the meat for its chicken nuggets. McDonald’s Japan halted sales of Chinese-made chicken products Monday and increased checks on chicken products  from Thailand and other menu items from China, including apple pie and cookies.

Following the food-safety allegations, McDonald’s Japan stopped serving chicken sandwiches in some locations. Sarah Casanova, chief executive of McDonald’s Japan, said Tuesday at a news conference that the scandal is likely to hurt sales and that the costs of efforts to win back customers’ trust also will erode earnings.

McDonald’s Japan has experienced a “challenging sales environment” in 2014 and expects this to continue for months because of the food safety allegations in China, the company said. The U.S. fast-food chain’s Japan unit previously forecast sales of $2.5 billion and profit of $59 million for 2014, but lowered this year’s earnings and sales forecasts because of the uncertain impact from the scandal. On its Web site, the chain also published a document listing where the food came from.

McDonald’s locations across China have had little to offer customers since the chain’s China unit stopped using supplies from Shanghai Husi. Many customers had nothing to order except coffee, smoothies, hash-browns and ice cream, according to a China Xinhua news report. The company doesn’t have an estimate on the number of restaurants running out of burgers, but it acknowledged its limited menus and apologized to its customers for the inconvenience.

Yum Brands’ KFC, one of the chains that used supplies from Shanghai  Husi, appears not to have the same product shortage as McDonald’s does, since KFC only used meat from Shanghai Husi in its restaurants in Fujian Province.

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Abby Phillip · July 30, 2014