Belgians Are Being Asked to Eat More Pommes Frites Thanks to Excess Potato Supply
Up to 825,000 tons of potatoes are at risk of going to waste.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire global food supply into flux. And while some items like meat and yeast are currently at risk of shortages, other items like beer and wine are facing problematic surpluses. Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to do our part, drinking an extra one billion bottles of wine isn’t advisable. However, in Belgium, residents are being asked to help eat the country out of a different surplus food: potatoes. Bring on the frites!
As much as three-quarters of a million metric tons of potatoes are at risk of being destroyed since the coronavirus outbreak has shut down restaurants and festivals, the latter of which is especially popular for frites sales, according to The Brussels Times. To deal with the problem, the trade group Belgapom is reportedly asking residents to double their potato consumption — from indulging in frites at home once a week to eating the Belgian equivalent of French fries twice a week. Apparently, part of the problem is that frites — as should probably be expected — are more of a takeout treat than an at-home staple, so the shift to eating at home has potentially hurt potato sales more than other foods.
Still, Belgium only has around 11.5 million people. Expecting them to eat over 140 pounds of potatoes each to cover the surplus seems like a bit of a stretch. So Belgapom has also been turning to another option: giving the potatoes away to food banks. Reportedly, 25 metric tons of potatoes will be sent to those in need every week until at least the end of May. “Our entire potato chain is happy that thanks to this action, some potatoes are still finding their way to the 460 distribution points of Belgian food banks,” Romain Cools, secretary-general of Belgapom, was quoted as saying. “In this way we also contribute to providing the weakest in our society with tasty and healthy potatoes.”
Now if only they had a surplus of garlic aioli to go with them.
And if this news has you considering doubling your personal intake of pommes frites (domestic potato surplus or not) take a look at some of our best French fry recipes here.