McDonald’s Big Macs Helping Not Hurting Russia, Moscow Journalist Says

June 6, 2015

Staunton, June 4 – There are few things more certain to provoke outrage among Russia’s “’kvas patriots’” than McDonald’s and its Big Macs, a Moscow journalist says; but such patriots should know the 500 McDonald’s restaurants now open in Russia provide more than 43,000 jobs directly and they purchases “almost 100 percent” of supplies from Russian vendors.

While some Russians may still be upset with the American franchise because it buys its potatoes in Poland and its relish in Turkey, the article says, they should recognize that “even for those who in principle never eat at McDonald’s (for whatever reason)” benefit from its presence in the Russian marketplace.

That is because McDonalds provides jobs, buys mostly Russian supplies, and is helping to improve Russian production in various food areas because of its own strict rules for how food is to be raised and processed. Many Russian producers, the article says, find it easier simply to extend those rules to all their production – and Russians benefit.

The 1,200-word article provides more details on this, but what is striking is that such an article has appeared in a Moscow outlet at all. On the one hand, it flies in the face of the Kremlin’s “import substitution” campaign. And on the other, it suggests to Russians that foreign firms cast a positive light far larger and brighter than many imagine.

The appearance of this article thus is an important sign of how sanctions are really hitting Russians, forcing at least some of them to think in more sophisticated ways their relationship with the international economy. And to that extent, a change in the Russian heart about Big Macs may presage other, larger changes in the future.