The area of potatoes planted in Ireland in 2019 was the second lowest on record, after 2018, which was the lowest on record. There was also a further decrease in the plantings of traditional varieties such as Kerr’s Pink and Golden Wonders.
Speaking at the recent National Potato conference in Dublin IFA president Tim Cullinan said farmers continue to be the poor relation within the supply chain. He outlined how retailers are taking the lion’s share of the margin on potatoes, while farmers bear all of the risk.
“Growers are coming under increased pressure due to rising input and storage costs and the continued decrease of phytosanitary products available. That situation cannot be sustained; the price the farmer gets has to rise, just to cover storage costs alone. Retailers and packers have to wake up to that and act now if they want to have a potato industry in the future,” he said.
IFA Potato chairman Thomas McKeown said growers make an investment of €60m each year to grow Ireland’s 20,411 acres of potato and ensure a top-quality product is consistently available to packers, supermarkets, and the food service sector.
In return, processors and retailers who rely on their product must return to them a fair price and stop undermining the market with surplus imports.
Bord Bia in conjunction with IFA and IPF were successful in their application for a second EU potato promotion fund. Ireland is now partnered with organisations in Belgium and France along with Europatat. This campaign will focus on millennials (18-34 year olds) and has an overall budget of €1.95 million.