To keep them from going to waste, the government is asking citizens to eat fries at least twice a week.
If you ever visited a Belgian bar or restaurant, you are probably familiar with twice-fried potato wedges, known as frites. Since the country has gone into a mandatory coronavirus-related shutdown starting March 18, the demand for those potato products has dropped significantly. Suddenly, Belgium has a surplus of about 750,000 tons of potatoes! To keep them from going to waste, the government is asking citizens to eat fries at least twice a week.
About 75% of the potato industry in Belgium is frozen potato products. After restaurants and bars were closed due to the coronavirus, the decreased demand put a strain on the amount of freezer storage available to house the overflow. Officials are asking people to take the pressure off by purchasing more frozen fries from grocery stores.
“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,” Romain Cools, the secretary-general of Belgapom, the nation’s potato industry association, told CNBC. “What we are trying to do is to avoid food waste because every lost potato is a loss.”
To prevent as much loss as possible, Belgium is looking for other ways to get rid of some of the unprocessed potatoes. They have considered shipping potatoes to food banks and other countries in Africa and central Europe that are dealing with food shortages. Manufacturers are also converting potatoes into biofuel and animal feed.
Now that citizens in Belgium are being asked to eat yummy french fries to help with the coronavirus relief effort, I think there’s something in all of us that wishes we could do the same.