What Is A Frikandel?
A frikandel; plural frikandellen is a traditional snack originating from the historical Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium and north of France), a sort of minced-meat sausage, of which the modern version was developed after World War II. The history of this snack in the Spanish Netherlands goes back to the 17th century. (Wiki)
What is a Frikandel made of?
The frikandel contains ordinary meat: chicken, pork and very occasionally some horse meat. Most of the meat used in the snack is what is known as separator meat. These are small scraps that remain on the bones after the fillet, breast and other larger pieces of chicken have been cut off. Under high pressure, those meat scraps are squeezed off the bone.
The Frikandel is often the cheapest ‘meat’ item available at most chip shops.
Now There Is a Shortage
As if the Netherlands did not have enough problems, now there is one more: cafeterias are suffering from a shortage of frikandells. Frikandellen manufacturers blame this on staff shortages and cannot say when the frikandel will be available in abundance again.
“We were already receiving worried reports from cafeteria owners that they were only allowed to order a maximum of ten boxes from their catering wholesaler,” says Frans van Rooij, director of the Association of Professional Fryers ProFri. “The frikandel, along with French fries and the croquette, is one of the top three items in the cafeteria.”
Roel Theelen, account manager of catering wholesaler Bidfood, also saw the frikandellen crisis coming. Bidfood even stopped delivering them at the end of August. “Now it’s getting really crazy,” says Theelen on Frituurwereld, ProFri’s newsletter. “Frikandellen are the carotid artery of the cafeteria. They’re the revenue model, so if you can’t sell them anymore, it’s going to be difficult.”
Snack manufacturer Van Geloven of Tilburg leaves open why the production of frikandells has stopped. Questions from Bidfood are followed by answers such as “software problems,” “not enough labor” and “raw material problems. “They are not transparent and do not communicate anything to the outside world,” complains Theelen. “We also don’t hear when the problem has been solved. Van Geloven is too big and produces almost all brands. That makes cafeterias vulnerable.”
Van Geloven is also not exactly forthcoming towards ProFri. Director and spokesman Jan Aaltzen Linde is not available for an interview and responds with a general statement. “We manage to produce a lot of volume, but we have connection problems due to a lack of manpower,” states Linde, who says he is doing everything possible to solve this.
“Van Geloven acknowledges the delivery problems, but when they will be resolved remains unclear,” said ProFri, which even after repeated urging will not get a conversation with the frikandel manufacturer. If volume is not the problem, the warehouses at Van Geloven will soon be full of frikandells. Then the cafeteria owners will know where they can pick up their boxes.
Van Geloven director Linde indicates that the warehouses are actually empty. “We are producing in full again and even a higher volume than in 2019, so for corona,” he says. “Everything we make is immediately delivered. Problem is, we don’t have enough people to make just a little bit more, so we have a buffer stock with which we can respond to incidents without causing problems for our customers.”
One such incident occurred at the end of August, when a software glitch shut down a production line of French fries for several days. “We would normally have solved something like that from the stock levels we need,” says Linde. “But that wasn’t possible and still isn’t. Because we are still looking for personnel to further increase production.
We have hired people, but all the vacancies have not been filled yet. Therefore, I cannot promise anything about when we will have enough stock again to be prepared for anything.” Rationing cafeteria owners is not up to Van Geloven, Linde said. That is determined by the catering wholesalers.
If necessary, chip shops that frequently sell frikandells can also turn to the supermarket to replenish their stock. “Frikandellen are not a problem with us,” responds a spokesperson for Albert Heijn. “We have plenty, so all customers are welcome.”
Albert Heijn is the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands with a market share of 34.8% in 2020. (Wiki)