A mound of french fries in Antwerp in happier times. Photo: Barrie Fanton/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of potatoes are at risk unless Belgians eat more french fries during the coronavirus crisis, Romain Cools, the secretary-general of the country's potato industry group, told CNBC.

The big picture: Frozen potatoes account for 75% of Belgium's potato processing capacity, and demand has been crushed with restaurants shuttered and freezers filled up.

By the numbers: Belgium's industry faces a possible loss of $135.5 million, if hundreds of tons of surplus potatoes aren't eaten by this year, AP reports.

"We're working with supermarkets to see whether we can launch a campaign asking Belgians to do something for the sector by eating fries — especially frozen fries — twice a week."
— Cools told CNBC

The big picture: Belgium is set to lift its stay-at-home order for most of its population as soon as Saturday. But, no date has yet been established for restaurants and frites stands to reopen.

  • In the meantime, businesses are organizing shipments to food banks and exports to Central Europe and Africa.

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