IFA National Potato Chairman Thomas Carpenter said nobody should be surprised that potato production fell by 15% last year. Reacting to the latest CSO figures which show the area of potatoes planted in 2011 was down 1,800 hectares compared to 2010, he said the low return from the marketplace was responsible for the drop in plantings.
He said, “It was inevitable that the number of tonnes produced would fall back by 64,000 given the downward pressure on price as a result of aggressive promotions by the retailers.”
Thomas Carpenter said, “We expect to see a similar drop this year, as the price paid to growers is not delivering a margin above costs. Retailers need to look closely at what is happening and return a fair price to growers if they want a regular supply of locally-produced potatoes on their shelves.”
He said growers would continue to switch to cereals if potato production did not return to viability. “The big increase in sowings for wheat, barley and oilseed rape last year is a trend we will see more of, as growers respond to the higher prices available.”