Members of the IFA Potato Committee last week presented proposals to the Minister for State with responsibility for Horticulture Shane McEntee on a potato promotions strategy and the mechanism to fund it.
Leading the delegation, IFA Potato Chairman Thomas Carpenter told Minister McEntee that research shows a continuing decline in fresh potato consumption, with the category under threat if the industry does not intervene.
“In rising to the challenges that face the industry, IFA along with Bord Bia and the Potato Packers and Merchants set up the Potato Promotions Group earlier this year and have identified the need for a long-term promotions and marketing campaign to raise awareness with consumers of the benefits of potatoes and to stabilise potato consumption in the short-term with a view to rebuilding it in the medium to long-term,” said Mr. Carpenter.
“Key to rolling out such a strategy is the funding mechanism to support it”, said the IFA Chairman who presented the Minister with proposals to develop a system to collect money from growers based on area of potatoes grown, which would in turn support a joint funding promotions application to the EU Commission.
Mr Carpenter added, “All industry stakeholders need to contribute to such a fund which will allow Bord Bia carry out critical market research and identify clearly the reasons for the decline in potato consumption and then to develop a promotional strategy around the outcome of such research”.
IFA has studied the system which operates in Great Britain and in Belgium and proposes that a similar system, with statutory legislation, is implemented here in Ireland to enable a fair funding mechanism be put in place and which will provide for Bord Bia or a similar body to collect this funding from growers.
“The introduction of a statutory mechanism to collect a fund for promotions and marketing of the potato crop has the support of the members of the IFA Potato Committee. At the 2012 Potato Conference, growers further supported this initiative as it is critical to the future of their industry.”
“Potato growers are calling on Minister McEntee to put in place the necessary legislation and provide the route to putting potatoes back on the plates of consumers,” said Mr. Carpenter.