Have Belgian fries had their chips?

An article in the British daily ‘The Guardian’ expresses concern that the drought over the past few weeks could pose a threat to one of Belgium’s best-known and arguably best-loved symbols: chips.

In the article the journalist writes that The Europe-wide heatwave has reduced Belgium’s potato yield by around a third and that without a lot of rainfall soon yields in September and October could be small still. The heat doesn’t only impact yields, but also the size of the potatoes produced. The heat also serves to make the skins of the potatoes too tough to be peeled by machinery in chip factories.

The issues caused by the drought have already served to push up the price of the popular Binje potato.

In an interview with the English-language news site Politico potato farmer Johan Geleyns said “There was a bit of rain in May, but then nothing in June,” he said, digging up the stunted potatoes from his dusty, brown fields. “The plants got stressed and the leaves got smaller. I don’t have an irrigation system so I rely on rain to water the crops.”

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of Belgium’s Belgapom Romain Cools told the Guardian “Drought combined with heat kills plants. This is disadvantageous, especially for the early potatoes that are harvested at this time.

“It is a disaster in the fields that the farmers could not irrigate. We record losses of around 30% ... This year, the market looks very different from last year. In 2017, a tonne of potatoes was trading at 25 euros because the supply was very substantial. Now, we are talking about 250 to 300 euros per tonne”, Mr Cools added.

With this in mind price hikes seem likely at your local chip shop or chip van.


Top stories