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No fries for you: Belgians ‘heartbroken’ at rising cost of fave ...

Lifestyle

No fries for you: Belgians ‘heartbroken’ at rising cost of fave snack

Energy, product and labour costs are forcing citizens to fork out more for their cherished chips

Bart Biesemans and Johnny Cotton
Bertrand Balasi prepares fries at his stand in Brussels.
HOT PROPERTY Bertrand Balasi prepares fries at his stand in Brussels.
Image: Yves Herman/Reuters

Belgians are having to fork out more for their favourite snack — chips — because of rising energy, commodity and labour costs.

Belgium is the world’s largest exporter of chips and other frozen potato products, with 5.3-million tons of potatoes processed a year and sent to customers in more than 160 countries.

“Fries being such an important product for Belgium, of course, emotionally when you have an increase of 10 or 20c a portion it’s heartbreaking, much more than a washing machine or a pair of shoes,” Bernard Lefevre, president of the national union of makers of potato fries, said.

We need gas to make fries ... you can’t fry fries with a candle.
Bernard Lefevre, president of the national union of makers of potato fries

As well as higher energy prices, which are affecting families and businesses almost everywhere, Belgians are having to contend with a ban on single-use plastic forks and plates traditionally used when eating fries.

“We need gas to make fries ... you can’t fry fries with a candle,” said Lefevre, who expects prices to rise by about 10% in the coming months, after two years of little change.

The coronavirus pandemic has also caused shortages of sauces, including mayonnaise, seen by Belgians as a must when eating fries.

For Bertrand Balasi, who serves fries from his kiosk in an old tram in Brussels, the price rises are inevitable.

“There are increases in prices of lots of things — be it of fat, of potatoes, energy. So even though we know the price of fries is symbolic, we might have to raise them to be able to keep selling a quality product,” Balasi said.

— Reuters

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