07:52 GMT +320 March 2019
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    Belgian Fry Manufacturers Alarmed as Heat Affects Iconic Snacks Production

    © AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty
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    Belgium's early crop of potatoes has already been reduced by about a third due to the current Europe-wide heatwave, which especially damaged the size of the potatoes and the roughness of their skins.

    The ongoing unusually hot weather in Belgium has already ridden roughshod over the so-called bintje potato, a staple in the production of fries, which, as locals will tell you, were invented in Belgium, and are not French.

    With the heatwave showing no signs of abating, Belgian fry makers are concerned that the bintje potato cannot be handled by peeling machines due to roughness of their skins caused by the drought.

    READ MORE: Ethic Concerns as Swedish Sellers Hike Prices on Used Fans Tenfold Amid Heatwave

    Bernard Lefevre, president of Unafri-Navefri, the Belgian association overlooking the production of fries, said that "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," he underscored.

    Lefevre said warned that although it's too early to say whether "the harvest is 100 percent good or bad", "it's true that if everything continues like it is, it’s not great for frites."

    He was echoed by Romain Cools, general secretary of the Belgian largest potato grower Belgapom, who bemoaned the "disadvantageous" situation when "drought combined with heat" kills the early crop of potatoes.

    "It is a disaster in the fields that the farmers could not irrigate. We're [ currently] recording losses of around 30 percent," he pointed out.


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    heatwave, potato, drought, french fries, Belgium
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