Flanders’ Agricultural Marketing Board (VLAM) has brought four Belgian exporters of frozen potato products to Food & Hotel Asia Singapore 2022 from 5 to 8 September 2022. Afterall, the nation is famous for its fries that goes so well with beer and also waffles and chocolates! Also, the frietkot (fries shop) is commonly found in Belgium and a ‘national intangible cultural heritage’. And if you happen to be in the historical city of Bruges, there’s a Friet museum that you can visit!
The Original Belgian Fries booths are located in the Flanders’ Pavillion which also feature other categories including dairy which we visited as well.
The origin of Belgian fries dates way back to the 17th century. 300 years later during World War 1, American soldiers based in Belgium mistakenly called the fried potatoes ‘French Fries’ because French was the Belgian army’s official language. There is even an ambassador to represent ‘Belgian fries’ as a whole. James Bint was named the ambassador of real Belgian Fries abroad by His Royal Highness Laurent, King of Belgium in 20 July 2017.
Belgium’s unique location in the core of Europe’s potato cultivation as well as moderate sea climate with plenty of rain guarantees a long and rich growing season. The fertile soil and favourable environment allow Belgium to enjoy the highest average yield of potatoes int he world and a rich diversity of potato varieties.
Last year, Belgium exported 33.3% of the world’s share of fries. Belgium is the world’s leading exporter of frozen fries. 32% of the 4.8 million kilogrammes of European frozen fries are imported in Singapore annually come from Belgium.
The secret behind Belgian fries is the natural and well-monitored cultivation process. High quality, certified seeds give life to tasty potato flesh and a natural yellow colour. Hence dyes are not used to artificially give it the golden-yellow colour.
European potato processers put sustainability at centre stage. The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) is an independent control organisation for plant and food safety. It audits and imposes regulations of self-control, reporting obligations and traceability in the food chain. It also provides a certification tool for the operators who live up to these regulations.
Vegaplan is a quality system that covers the potato crop, defining the specifications growers have to meet in terms of the quality of primary plant produces which translates to a farm certificate. The Vegaplan standard contains European and local requirements for integrated crop protection and is recognised in other European countries.
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) has developed the Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool to assess a farm’s sustainable development. Certified growers have to prove that their efforts lead to sustainable development. The Vegaplan scheme has received SAI’s golden status for the potato crop.
The European Union has a strict interpretation of risk analysis. Its food safety policy assures safe food for all. Chlorpropham is no longer allowed as a sprout suppressant for potatoes that are stored for a long time. Only natural-based sprout suppressants are allowed. Acrylamide is also regulated with prevention measures, mitigation, legal framework to reduce intake and guidelines for frying potato products.
7 Steps to Perfectly Golden Belgian Fries
Step 1 : Put oil in a fryer and heat up to 170 – 175 degrees celsius.
Step 2 : Fill the basket with frozen Belgian Fries no more than halfway and not above the oil level
Step 3 : Shake the basket slightly after 30 seconds
Step 4 : Continue to cook the fries until they are golden-yellow
Step 5 : Lift the basket out of the oil and shake it well to let the oil drip off
Step 6 : Have some fun shaking it again
Step 7 : Season with Salt.