The chips are down: Belgium counts the cost of betting all on the potato

The chips are down: Belgium counts the cost of betting all on the potato

A row over a huge processing plant has exposed flaws in the country’s reliance on a single crop. In Frameries, campaigners call for farmers to diversify

A humble frite with a dollop of mayonnaise is a revered thing in Belgium but, thanks to campaigners against a new mega-processing plant, the environmental and social costs of its mass production are being newly questioned at the highest levels of government.

For three years, residents in Frameries, a town in French-speaking Hainaut in the south-west of the country, have battled against the proposed construction of a €300m (£258m) factory, which it is said would increase Belgian production of processed potato products by a third. Belgium is already the world’s largest exporter of pre-fried potato products.

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