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Some Subway India outlets drop tomatoes citing poor quality amid price surge

NEW DELHI, July 22 (Reuters) – Some Subway India outlets have stopped serving tomatoes in their salads and sandwiches due to quality problems, the latest move by a foreign brand as prices of the staple have soared nearly 400% to record highs in the country.

A Subway outlet at a Delhi airport terminal announced the “Temporary Unavailability of TOMATOES” in a sign saying the restaurant could not get enough supply that passed its quality checks.

“Hence for the time being we are forced to serve you products without tomatoes,” it said. “We are working to get the tomato supplies back.”

Everstone Group’s Culinary Brands, which has the master franchisee for some 200 of India’s 800 Subways and manages the supply chain for all of them, did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear how many outlets were affected.

Many Indian outlets were still offering tomatoes, according to checks of food ordering apps and calls to stores, but at least two in New Delhi, one in Uttar Pradesh and one in Chennai in the south had stopped.

“It’s very expensive,” said one Subway store employee.

Two weeks ago McDonald’s restaurants in India dropped tomatoes from their burgers and wraps in many parts of India due to quality issues.

In the capital New Delhi, tomatoes were retailing for about 168 rupees ($2.05) a kg (93 cents a pound) on Saturday, after touching around 240 rupees.

The government blames the higher prices of tomatoes on a lean production season as monsoon rains disrupt transport and distribution. It follows months of higher prices for items ranging from milk to spices.

The government in recent weeks has organized mobile vans to supply tomatoes at cheaper rates, with hundreds queuing each day.

Global restaurant chains like Domino’s (DPZ.N) and KFC are also launching lower-priced products in India, where consumers have cut spending due to high inflation. Domino’s is aggressively promoting a 60-cent seven-inch pizza, the brand’s cheapest worldwide, in the country.

Reporting by Krishn Kaushik, Riddhima Talwani, Aditya Kalra, Sriram Mani, Dhwani Pandya, Praveen Paramasivam and Euan Rocha; Editing by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Krishn reports on politics and strategic affairs from the Indian subcontinent. He has previously worked at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative consortium; The Indian Express; and The Caravan magazine, writing about defence, politics, law, conglomerates, media, elections and investigative projects. A graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, Krishn has won multiple awards for his work. Contact: +918527322283

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