Amid Potato Surplus, Belgians Urged to Eat Fries Twice a Week

With a surplus of frozen potatoes, the country is asking citizens to step up to the plate.

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According to CNBC, Belgium is asking its citizen to ramp up their consumption of fries to avoid putting a massive amount of oversupplied potatoes to waste.

Romain Cools, secretary general of Belgian potato industry body Belgapom, told CNBC that about 750,000 tons of potatoes are likely not to be processed due to weakened demand in the small European country due to business lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belgians can help mitigate that waste by stepping up to the plate. Cools asked the public to eat frozen fries twice per week as the virus crisis persists.

CNBC said Belgium’s surplus stems from a drop in demand for frozen potatoes, which comprises about 75 percent of the country’s potato processing. The shutdown of restaurants and bars that serve frites — a popular twice-fried dish — resulted in swelling inventory, which shrunk freezer capacity.

“We’re working with supermarkets to see whether we can launch a campaign asking Belgians to do something for the sector by eating fries — especially frozen fries — twice a week during the coronavirus crisis,” Cools told CNBC. “What we are trying to do is to avoid food waste, because every lost potato is a loss.”

Cools added that the remaining 25 percent of Belgium’s processed potato industry — which includes fresh potatoes and snack products — has been fairing well during the pandemic as more people cook and snack at home.

Belgium’s mandated lockdown began March 18. Currently, cafes and restaurants aren’t allowed to reopen until June 8.

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