It's a different kind of potato shortage.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
September 20, 2018
pbombaert/Getty Images

This fall, if you happen to find yourself across the pond or traveling around “the continent” as they say, don’t be surprised if your order of pommes frites or fish and chips falls short of your expectations. In the next few months, potato fans in Belgium, France, and the U.K. can expect a potato shortage to curb the size and shape of their fries. However, this shortage is less about a low potato haul and more so about the lackluster growth of the potatoes themselves, as Belgian potato growers report smaller spuds due to an unusually hot and dry summer.

The result of that poor growing season could see Belgium’s signature street food shrinking by an average of about three centimeters compared to the usual, roughy three-inch length the potato spears usually yield, the Washington Post reports. According to Pierre Lebrun of the Walloon Potato Growers' Association, the drought has affected the majority of Western Europe's potato-growing regions, meaning there's no escape from tinier tubers. "We will all eat smaller fries," he said.

So it seems the contents of those iconic paper cones might just resemble American-style home fries than proper chips this fall and winter. With a reported 5,000-plus friteries in Belgium alone, clearly any change to the product has a major impact on the country's food scene, let alone the countries that import potatoes from the region. And, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much hope of recovering that extra edible inch anytime soon. With climate change increasingly bringing the conditions cited as the culprit of this year's subpar harvest, the future of standard-length pommes frites could be in limbo for the long run.

Speaking of frites, if all this talk of fried potatoes has you in the mood for some American-style fries, you might be interested in trying them with some of the Heinz company’s latest sauce selection being made available stateside for the first time: Mayochup.

Advertisement