Ahead of National Strawberry Week, which begins on Monday (June 6th), IFA President Joe Healy has urged consumers to support Irish fruit growers by buying Irish.
The IFA President also called on retailers to recognise the investment made by Irish strawberry and fruit growers, by ensuring that fresh fruit is seen on retail shelves as a premium quality product and not used as a loss leader in retail wars.
Joe Healy said, “Each year Ireland’s 100 strawberry growers produce a crop worth €38 million at the farm gate, with production expected to reach almost 7,000 tonnes this year”.
“Although Irish strawberries are synonymous with Irish summer, growers have made sizable investments on their farms to extend the production season. Fresh fruit is now available to the Irish consumer from April right through to November, in an industry that accounts for 1,000 rural jobs”
“Poor weather made for a difficult start to the season, however sales of fruit are growing in volume but there is on-going concern of the decline in the value of the crop as a result of pressure from retailers.
Consumer demand continues to increase for strawberries however growers are fearful for their futures due to the escalation of input costs. The recent increase in wage costs is very significant in this labour intensive industry where labour accounts for almost 50% of the costs of production. To remain competitive Irish growers will rely on support from government and the wider supply chain.
Check the origin
The IFA President urged consumers to check for country of origin when buying fruit and to support Irish production.
He said, “IFA is actively involved in the monitoring of proper labelling of fruit both on retail shelves and in road-side sales. Only by regular monitoring and reporting of issues to the Department of Agriculture can a resolution to non-identifiable produce be achieved,”
National Strawberry Week 2016 runs Monday, June 6th to Sunday, June 12th.