National Potato Conference hears potato consumption up first time in seven years

Irish consumption of potatoes is up for the first time in seven years, with further gains set to follow a new promotional campaign — ‘Potatoes: More Than A Bit On The Side’.

The National Potato Conference in Dublin heard that the average Irish shopper bought potatoes on 34 grocery trips last year, up on 2014.

However, the Irish shopper’s 119kg for 2015 is short of the 2007 total of 140kg.

Yesterday’s conference was hosted by IFA, Teagasc, and Bord Bia.

Their promotional campaign is directed at 22-44-year-old females.

It offers tasty, healthy and easy- to-prepare recipes, to help cook potatoes.

Lorcan Bourke, Bord Bia potato manager, said: “This collaborative initiative will see potatoes presented as a naturally fat- and gluten-free ingredient, that can be used in many different ways and for a variety of occasions, to positively change the perception of younger consumers about potatoes and show that they are, as the campaign name highlights, more than a bit on the side.”

IFA national chairman, Jer Bergin, said the joint initiative with the UK is funded by growers, packers and the Department of Agriculture.

He said the potato industry is worth nearly €80m at the farm gate, noting that 2015 was better for growers relative to the disastrous prices of the previous two years.

Teagasc’s head of crops knowledge transfer, Michael Hennessy, highlighted the Salad Potatoes initiative, which is aimed at increasing the production of salad potatoes grown in Ireland.

“The industry has all the elements necessary to increase salad potato production as we have suitable soils, existing infrastructure and a market anxious to sell Irish produce,” said Mr Hennessy.


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