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The chips are down in Belgium as heatwave hits supply of frites

Reduced yields are putting national dish and 'symbol of Belgium' under threat

Food vendors in Belgium are praying for rain as the hot weather threatens the supply of the country's national dish, frites. The Europe-wide heatwave has shrunk Belgium's early crop of potatoes by about one-third compared with an average year. Without significant rainfall over the next few weeks, the key September and October harvests could be smaller still.

The heat impacts not only the yield, but the size of the potatoes and the roughness of their skins. If they are too tough, they cannot be handled by the peeling machines used by chip manufacturers. The price of the bintje potato, the traditional variety used in creating the frite, or frieten, as people say in the Flemish-speaking north of the country where the crisis has most been felt, has already shot up. And it is likely to rise further, turning the cheap Belgian snack into a rather expensive one.

Bernard Lefèvre, the president of Unafri-Navefri, the stallowners' association, told Politico: "It's a subject that is at the heart of our job. "Prices have already increased and potatoes will be smaller, but it isn't clear yet. We are hopeful. It's the first time Belgians are praying for more rain ... "Frites are essential. It is vital. It is part of our culture. It's more than a product - it's a symbol of Belgium."

Belgium, not noted for a lack of rain, has applied to the EU for emergency funds to deal with the drought, which has most heavily impacted the north of Flanders, in terms of the quantity and quality of potatoes.

Source: The Guardian  

Päivitetty/Updated: 10.08.2018




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