Addressing the National Potato Conference in Dublin today (Wed), IFA President John Bryan said the current loss-making situation for potato growers was unsustainable. He laid down a clear challenge to the retailers and merchants to address the serious difficulties by returning viable prices to growers to at least cover their cost of production.
John Bryan said, “The farmgate price has reduced by nearly 30% in the last two years, and aggressive discounting by the supermarkets has wiped out grower margins. The investment by growers in delivering a top quality product from 25,000 acres across the country must be recognised. Both merchants and retailers have to acknowledge potato growers as genuine partners in the food chain, and reward them accordingly. There is enough in the consumer price for everybody, but equity in the food supply chain is sadly lacking for potato growers.”
The Chairman of the IFA Potato Committee Chairman Thomas Carpenter said IFA supports the establishment of A Potato Promotions Group, comprising growers, the Irish Potato Federation and Bord Bia, which will lead a marketing initiative over the next three to five years, with the aim of increasing the consumption of potatoes.
Thomas Carpenter said, “Cross-industry marketing promotion is important in reversing the decline in consumption and improving the incomes of growers. I am encouraging everybody in the industry to engage seriously in bringing the grower sector back to profitability. Stabilising potato consumption in the medium term, and then growing sales, has to be of benefit to everybody in the chain.”
John Bryan called on Minister of State for Agriculture Shane McEntee, who attended today’s conference, to support the Potato Promotions Group and introduce a Code of Practice for the retail sector immediately. “This legislation was promised by Fine Gael as far back as 2009 and is part of the Programme for Government. This is unfinished business and must be prioritised by the Government.”