IFA President Joe Healy has called on retailers to recognise the investment made by salad growers in this country, by ensuring that their produce is seen on retail shelves as a premium quality product and not used as a loss leader in retail wars.
Marking the inaugural National Summer Salads Week, in conjunction with Bord Bia (18 -22 July), on Matt Foley’s farm in Rush, Co Dublin, the IFA President said “Ireland’s 75 salad crop growers produce crops worth €45 million at the farm gate, with tomatoes and lettuce accounting for €15m of this.
“These growers, who employ more than 600 people, have made sizable capital investments on their farms, which helps to extend the production season, and now provide some lines from mid-March to November.”
The area grown under protection (glasshouses / tunnels) is 190ha while outdoor production makes up 250ha.
Joe Healy said, “Salad growers face constant challenges in the market place with cheaper import substitution, especially when sold below the cost of production, and increased labour and energy costs.
“Sales of salads are growing in volume but declining in value as they face relentless downward price pressure in the retail wars.”
The IFA President called on consumers to support Irish produce and to check for country of origin when buying their tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, peppers and scallions this summer.