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Possible ban on UK potatoes could impact chip shops, growers in Ireland

A possible post-Brexit ban on the importation of potatoes from the UK could affect supplies in Ireland next year, according to a report by Fran McNulty, RTE Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Correspondent.

From 1 January, UK table potatoes and seed potatoes could fall foul of EU food safety rules. When the UK becomes a third country, it will be outside the legal framework of the European Union’s food safety rules.

Many service outlets in Ireland, including chip shops, use British potatoes for chips. One of the country’s longest established chip shops is now warning that the ban could not only change the taste and type of chips Irish consumers enjoy, but could lead to shortages and changes in portion sizes.

That Brexit could hit the chip shop is bad, but the impact on potato growers could be much worse. The potato crop grows from seed potatoes. Ireland was once an exporter of seed, but over the last 30 years the sector has shrunk.

Irish farmers produce around 4,000 tonnes of seed potatoes every year. But, they import 6,000 tonnes of seed, mostly from Scotland. The shortfall is enormous and many are speculating that the seed potato sector here will have to rejuvenate to deal with the shortfall. But, that will take time.

The impact will not only be felt in Ireland. Some of the big food processors in Britain that make frozen chips buy their potatoes from Belgium and other EU countries. Those imports into Britain will also be prohibited.

Source: RTE. Full report here

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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