Belgians Are Being Urged To Eat Fries Twice A Week Due To Massive Potato Surplus

by Gizel Menezes
Belgians Are Being Urged To Eat Fries Twice A Week Due To Massive Potato Surplus

Belgians are well-known for their love for frites, which is often served with a big dollop of mayonnaise! But now, with a major crisis looming over the agricultural industry, potato farmers are urging Belgians to eat fries twice a week.

Image Courtesy: Inside Hook

Belgians Are Being Urged To Eat Fries Twice A Week

Belgian fries or Frites, deep-fried potatoes with cream, is a popular food attraction for both locals and tourists in the country. Often dubbed as a national dish, the crispy fritters form the backbone of Belgium’s potato agricultural sector.

However, potato growers are facing a massive agricultural crisis due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Since mid-March, restaurants in Belgium and many other markets for potato growers have closed, causing about 750,000 tonnes of potatoes to be piled up in Belgian warehouses. The cancellation of Belgium’s many spring and summer festivals has further added to the woes of farmers.

According to a CNBC report, the surplus potatoes would all go to waste if not processed. The frozen potato market, which accounts for 75% of the total potato production in Belgium, is experiencing a huge loss in demand, which is why the country is appealing to its citizens to up their weekly intake of fries.

To mitigate the crisis, Belgian agricultural institutions such as Belgapom have been working with supermarkets on a campaign to encourage residents to eat frites. Belgapom has also decided to deliver 25 tonnes of potatoes a week to food banks in Flanders so that potatoes don’t end up in the trash.

Image Courtesy: Twitter

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COVID-19 Has Caused A Massive Blow To The Potato Industry Internationally Too

On an international scale too, potato trade has been hit. Not many know that Belgium is one of the world’s top exporters of potato products, including frozen chips. It sends more than 1.5 m tonnes of potatoes to more than 100 countries annually.
Authorities, however, feel that the sector will take a while to survive. With the possibility of a second wave of a coronavirus lurking around the corner, they are seeking support from the European Commission, something they never felt the need to do before.
Belgium has recorded 47,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7,501 deaths. It has been under lockdown since March 18. However, on Friday, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced that the government would ease the lockdown in three stages, beginning with the opening of some businesses on May 4. But cafes and restaurants will not be allowed to reopen until June 8.