IFA Potato Chairman Thomas McKeown has called on all retailers to recognise the work of potato farmers and to consider the economic sustainability of the Irish potato sector.
In recent weeks some retailers have raised the specs on potatoes to unattainable levels. This is hitting producer incomes and leading to high levels of food waste.
He said, “With the collapse of the foodservice sector due to Covid, there is no market for a rejected product, and it is ending up as animal feed”.
Retailers are misleading the consumer by offering what they deem to be the perfect potato. They are rejecting potatoes which are perfectly edible and contributing to the issue of food waste
The Chairman said retailers, unlike all businesses, have been fortunate to continue to trade during Covid.
“They should act responsibly and show solidarity with their suppliers, rather than taking advantage and trying to profiteer in this unique market situation. If retailers want to continue to take only a limited amount of the potato crop, they will need to increase the price paid to farmers considerably.”
The production of potatoes is down over 10% compared to last year. If retailers continue to reject this quality product, it will lead to shortages of the potatoes required by the retail market.
“With the threat of a hard Brexit still looming, it is more important than ever that retailers support the Irish potato sector rather than undermining it,” said the IFA Potato Chairman.
Finally, Thomas McKeown reminded retailers that they must not use potatoes as a tool to drive footfall in the run-up to Christmas.