Belgians are being asked to eat an extra portion of frites each week during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to help Belgian potato producers, who risk destroying surplus stock due a slump in demand caused by restaurant closures.
The campaign is being led by Belgapom, the country's association of potato producers. Its director, Romain Cools, told CNN that he hopes that by encouraging Belgians to eat more frites at home it will, "enable our processors to avoid food waste by processing more potatoes and store them in our freezers -- which are nearly full now."
Belgians typically eat frites once a week, but mainly outside their homes in friteries or restaurants. Coors said this is "contrary to other countries like the United States, where fries are often a side dish for their meals."
Belgian potato farmers are facing a surplus of 750,000 tons of potatoes this year that risk being destroyed because of the measures in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to the latest Belgapom data.
"By eating an extra portion during this crisis they could collaborate with farmers and the industry to avoid food losses," added Cools.
World's largest frozen fries exporter: With almost all food outlets closed in the country and across Europe, normal consumption patterns have been disrupted which Belgapom estimates has caused a worldwide decrease in the consumption of fries by 40% since the beginning of the pandemic.
This has huge implications on the Belgian potato growers who are the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries -- with the majority of their products going to caterers and professional kitchens in 160 countries around the world.
According to Belgapom’s figures, 2.3 million tons of frozen french fries were supplied globally by Belgian producers in 2019.
To help citizens use up the extra potatoes, the regional agriculture agency of Wallonia, Apaq-W and VLAM are promoting local and seasonal recipes through dedicated websites to use up excess Belgian potatoes and encouraging people to post their dishes on social media.