The coronavirus pandemic has hit the agricultural sector of every country. Belgium, which has been facing a surplus of potatoes, however, found a novel way to deal with the crisis. The country has asked its citizens to eat potato fries twice a week in order to utilise the potato surplus.
The surplus of 750,000 tons of potatoes came at a time when sales of Belgium’s favourite snack – deep-fried potatoes with cream, known as ‘Belgium Fries’ to tourists – registered a decline due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Belgian fries or “Frites” are a popular attraction for both locals and tourists in the country and is often dubbed Belgium’s national dish. The crispy fritters are the backbone of Belgium’s potato agricultural sector.
According to a report in CNBC, the surplus potatoes are all set to go to waste if not processed. Since the frozen potato market, which makes up for 75 percent of total potato produce in Belgium, was experiences a loss in demand, tonnes of potatoes are likely to end up in the trash.
The remaining 25 percent of the potatoes are produced for the fresh produce and processed/packaged snacks. The report said that this section did not take a hit and sales had remained optimum.
One of the reasons for the loss of demand and consumption of Belgian fries could be the fact that Belgians prefer to eat frites at restaurants as a starter or as a side in pubs and bars while drinking.
To avoid the crisis, Belgian agricultural institutions such as Belgapom, the official body that looks after potato production in Belgium, have been working on a campaign to encourage residents to prepare and eat frites at home, at least twice a week.
Authorities, however, feel that with the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus, the sector was likely to take a while to survive
Belgium recorded 46,687 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 7,207 deaths an has been under lockdown since March 18.
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