McDonalds’ flagship Russian location in Moscow, along with three others, have been closed down for ‘sanitary violations’ as the trade war between Russia and the Western world intensifies.
According to Russian news outlets the McDonald’s closed in near Red Square was once the largest in the world, and the first to open in Russia as Cold War relations thawed in 1990.The ‘Big Mac Index’ and accompanying study of ‘Burgernomics’ has been used for decades as a relatively informal measure of Purchasing Power Parity and market efficiency. The distribution of McDonalds restaurants around the world is also a useful measure of market openness and strength.
McDonalds has never taken off in a big way in Russia. Although the franchised chain operates over 34,000 restaurants around the world, only 430 of them are in Russia. This compares poorly with the UK, a country with only half of Russia’s population but 1,200 branches of the home of the Big Mac.
Although only four have closed so far, Russian state watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has promised more inspections to come. According to the BBC the watchdog has acted as an arm of the state for political ends before, prohibiting products on spurious grounds including Georgian Wine and Ukrainian Cheese.
McDonalds has pulled out of national markets before, citing political and economic reasons. As trade embargoes continue to be exchanged over the subject of interventionism in the Ukraine, Russia could join other such international Big Mac pariahs states North Korea, Bolivia, and Zimbabwe.
Russian Advert for the opening of the first McDonalds in 1990: