THE floury Irish spud is still top of the pops with consumers, according to new research from Bord Bia.
Shoppers spend €136 million a year in the overall retail potato market in Ireland and most of it is on home-grown varieties. Exact figures are not available, but Bord Bia estimates the fresh potato market is 90% supplied by Irish producers, with 10% imported. The imports consist primarily of new season potatoes from certain Mediterranean countries and baby salad varieties.
Some 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of commercial potatoes are grown in Ireland annually. Over half of the national production is based in north Leinster with Meath, Dublin and Louth being the core areas.
Bord Bia research has revealed that 52% of households eat one portion of potatoes a day and one in three people eat two portions.
The research also showed that 69% of consumers agree that potatoes are the best tasting carbohydrate, compared with only 13% for rice and 11% for pasta.
Bord Bia’s findings also uncovered that 57% of consumers think about how they can easily cook and prepare produce when deciding to purchase.
Two-thirds of consumers claim freshness is more important than price. Processed produce performed very poorly, with only 2% of consumers considering frozen chips healthy.
The new season potato market is one of the most important times of the year for the potato sector and consumers alike, accounting for 13% of the total potato production area.
Consumer’s rate fresh produce, such as vegetables, fruit and potatoes as significantly higher on health and nutritional factors than many other foods.
“There is a real appetite for fresh produce as consumers become more aware of health issues and more conscious of their diet. This will drive sales and consumption of fresh potatoes,” said Bord Bia horticulture manager Mike Neary.
For more information see www.bestinseason.ie
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