Belgium has too many potatoes


In Belgium, potato producers predict that the crisis due to the coronavirus will accumulate up to 750 thousand tons of unsold goods, according to the trade association Belgapom: enough to fill around 30 thousand large trucks. For this reason, the secretary Romain Cools invited Belgian citizens to consume potatoes at least twice a week, and asked for awareness campaigns to be launched on the subject.

Belgium is one of the largest European producers of potatoes, and is famous for its french fries. But according to Cools, the demand for frozen potatoes has decreased by 75 percent due to restrictions related to coronavirus: the drop is mainly due to lower exports, to which second Le Soir 90 percent of frozen potato production is earmarked. The cancellation of festivals and large public summer events, as well as the closure of restaurants and large fast food chains, are among the main causes of the lower international demand. The remaining 25 percent of production, which consists of fresh potatoes and packaged snacks, is holding up rather well, as it depends largely on domestic consumption.

The refrigerated warehouses of the producers are reaching the maximum capacity of frozen potatoes, he said Cools a CNBC, and for this reason “we are working with supermarkets to see if we can launch a campaign that invites Belgians to do something for the sector, eating chips – especially frozen ones – twice a week”. Cools also announced that Belgapom is donating 25 million potatoes per week to food banks that help people in economic difficulty. In part, the excess production was also destined for the African and Central European markets, where there is more demand. What is left over is destined for feed, biofuels and to be wasted.

The crisis, however, seems destined to last a long time, and the appeal to the Belgians represents only a partial solution: “we have also asked producers not to plant the normal quantity of potatoes for the next season,” explained Cools.


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