How a scorching summer could shrink Europe's fries

STORY: Europe's blisteringly hot summer is forecast to result in the smallest potato crop in years - something that could affect the cost of a much-loved side: fries.

The poor-quality yield may increase prices for potato-based foods, just as consumers contend with spiraling inflation.

Potatoes are among summer crops to have suffered from this year’s record temperature, as well as Europe’s worst drought in 500 years.

Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium account for most EU potato output.

Bernard Lefevre is the President of the National Union of Fries Makers in Belgium:

"It is emotionally very very difficult to accept that what is so personal to a Belgian - his fries- is going to increase in price. Anyhow, if it increases 10 or 20%, you still have a meal for lets say 3 euros, which is still affordable."

Parched conditions in these northwestern areas could push EU production to its lowest on record, according to World Potato Market analysts.

Soaring energy and food prices have contributed to the sharp rise in inflation.

In the euro area, it has soared to 9%, levels not seen in 50 years.

Some European producers point out that crop estimates are tentative before September’s main harvest – and cooler temperatures may bring late relief.

However, Germany's agriculture ministry said on August 26 that prospects for the potato crop had "drastically worsened."

In France, latest field surveys predict yields could be at least 20% below the 20-year average, according to French producer group UNPT.

The EU's crop monitoring service this week cut its monthly potato yield forecast by 2.5%.

Although, its revised outlook matched the average of the past five years.

Heat is not only a risk for yield – but also quality, with the shape and color of potatoes altered by high temperatures.

That could pose problems further down the line, as contracts stipulate criteria such as how long fries should be.