Potatoes Reports

Potato Council Report December 2020

The outlook for the food service sector remains uncertain as the government continues to look at the options available when level 5 restrictions lift. Retail demand remains buoyant. It is estimated that over 30% of crop remains to be dug in Donegal, most other areas are finished digging with the exception of some wetter areas. Growers report that quality is very good and once again yields are significantly reduced. 

In the U.K. persistent wet weather has paused lifting for some still clearing, particularly pockets of the East, Northern regions and some Scottish areas.  As of 10 November 2020, it was estimated that just 2% of the planted area was yet to be lifted. This compares with 11% of the crop estimated to be lifted as at 12 November 2019.

In Europe fresh potato markets continue to hold firm. This week, export markets have shown more signs of life with demand from Africa, Spain and Portugal and also interest in best washing quality for Eastern Europe. The processing sector is even more depressed this week. Lack of export demand for frozen product has knocked confidence “totally” and there are rumours of lower values being offered for contracts for next season.

Rooster box €320€380€350
Rooster 10 kg €3.50€4.00€3.80
Whites Box€300€350€320
 Kerr Pinks€4.50€5.50€5.00

Activity since last Council

  • A National Potato Committee meeting was held on Wednesday the 24th of November, with guest speakers Lorcan Bourke from Bord Bia and Barry Delaney from DAFM. The main agenda items were potato promotions, Brexit/seed potato and looking back at the 2020 season. 
  • The retailer’s buyers have been contacted regarding the reduced production this season and quality specs. The retailers have also been warned against extreme discounting of fresh produce at Christmas.
  • The IFA president Tim Cullinan has met a number of the retail CEO’s to discuss the issues affecting the sector and the need for significant rises in farm gate prices to keep pace with input costs.
  • IFA met with Minister Pippa Hackett as part of an overall horticulture meeting. Diquat and the inclusion of haulm toppers and potato storage equipment under TAMS were the main items addressed. Issues in relation to seed availability and Brexit were also raised.
  • The IFA planted acreage survey is now complete. Over 170 growers were contacted as part of the survey. This represented an area of 6909 ha (17072ac). The total estimated planted area for 2020(incl. seed) is 8838 Ha (21’839ac) according to DAFM figures. Survey represents 78% of the total amount planted. Main findings of survey were as follows: Increase of 575 Ha (1421ac) in 2020 from 8044Ha (19’877ac) in 2019.This represents an increase of 7% from 2019 plantings.
  • Yield dig 2020 figures indicate that Rooster and Kerr Pinks are down -21% and -19.5% respectfully compared with last year’s figures. A national average marketable yield was found to be 14.64 tonne /acre for Rooster and 11.37 tonne /acre for Kerr’s Pink.
  • The Potato Development Group has produced a video to promote the fresh chip sector in Ireland.
  • A number of growers supplying the catering and fresh chip sectors have continued to be seriously affected by the lack of demand due to the impact of the pandemic and have had to send potatoes for cattle feed. IFA continues to engage with DAFM on this.
  • Two activations of the new EU Potato Promotions Campaign are now complete. The activations are focused on influencer content being uploaded on social media channels targeted at millennials. The first activation reached over 90% of millennials. 100 recipes are now on www.potato.ie and another 100 are currently being created. IFA continues to engage with stakeholder meeting around the planning for the next activation. Growers are reminded to support the promotion by returning the forms sent to them in the post. 

EU/COPA developments

  • IFA participated in the Copa.Cogeca phytosanitary working party where the Farm2Fork and Glyphosate were some of the main agenda items.
  • IFA have participated in meetings of the Copa.Cogeca cereals working party and the EU Commission Civil Dialogue Group on Potatoes. The impact of the proposed Green Deal (Farm to Fork & Biodiversity strategies), the impact of Covid, CAP, market situation and PPP’s were the main agenda items. 
  • IFA have continued contact with both the EU Commission and COPA in relation to the impact of Covid 19 on the potato sector

Upcoming Activity/Events

  • IFA will continue to demand that packers and retailers pay sustainable potato farm gate prices and to be fair on QC specifications running into the Christmas period. IFA have met with all retailers and the President has written to the chief executives of all retailers on this.
  • IFA will continue to contact growers to ensure they are aware of the costs of production.
  • There will be continued engagement in relation to the EU Potato Promotion. 
  • There will be further interaction with DAFM regarding the inclusion of haulm toppers and potato storage equipment under TAMS.

Thomas McKeown – Chair

Patrick Farrell – Executive

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