11 Aug 2022

Grow more spuds for chippers

Minister Hackett says farmers can win back some of the €33 mill being spent on UK imports

Grow more spuds for chippers says Offaly minister

Minister of State Pippa Hackett Picture: Alison Miles/OSM PHOTO

A Minister of State is backing a new campaign to get farmers in Longford and across the country to grow potatoes to supply takeaways ahead.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has welcomed a new initiative which is aimed at helping Irish potato growers get their produce into Irish chip shops.

Board Bia says that Ireland, despite being a nation famous for potatoes and growing circa 300,000 tonnes per annum for domestic consumption, imports 80,000 tonnes, or €45 million worth, of potatoes per annum, with 64,000 (€33 million) tonnes coming from the UK (source: CSO 2019).

It says the majority of these fresh potato imports are used by chip shop owners of which there are currently over 530 independent chip shops in Ireland.

Meadowfresh Foods based in Tallow, Co Waterford and O'Shea Farms/Iverk Produce, based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny have joined forces to become Ireland’s first dedicated fresh chipping potato packer and distributor. Minister Hackett opened the new distribution centre on a visit their new purpose built storage facility.

“A storage facility which maintains the correct sugar and starch levels in potatoes, as well as keeping them fresh beyond the winter period, is absolutely key to producing the quality that is needed in good chipping potatoes. So the development of such a facility, along with the official opening today of Ireland’s first dedicated potato packer and distributor focusing on the exclusive growing of potatoes for chipping, is a real opportunity for Irish growers to supply home-grown potatoes for the Irish chip shop market. 

"Growing chipping  potatoes is a specialist operation, and the market for them is valued at approximately €20 million per year. I think the Irish consumer, given the choice , will really appreciate businesses that support local growers. This is a welcome development which will shorten the supply chain and bring plant bio security benefits, making it a significant step forward for the sector. I would like to congratulate all involved and I look forward to seeing how the initiative progresses over the coming years,” she said.

In 2019, as part of the ‘chipping potato’ project, Bord Bia says undertook consumer and trade research to understand both the Irish consumer and independent chip shop owner’s perspective.

The research revealed that over 66% of Irish consumers (2 in 3) incorrectly assume that the potatoes used to make the majority of chipper chips come from Ireland.

Approximately 3 in 4 are likely to support a chipper that sources locally grown potatoes.

A further 70% would consider it useful to know the country of origin of the potatoes used in their usual chipper through signage or recognised marks.

Texture of the chips, reputation of chipper and the appearance of chips were cited as the most important factors in making great chipper chips.

From the trade side, Lorcan Bourke, Fresh Produce and Potato Manager, Bord Bia was encouraged by the research findings. “Some chip shop owners have already successfully put a local supply chain relationship in place, demonstrating that Irish growers can grow chipping potatoes of excellent quality. Many of the chip shop owners working with locally grown potatoes saw local supply as a great advantage in their communications with customers. I firmly believe it is a win-win situation and would encourage any grower or chip shop owner willing to support the initiative to get in touch or visit our webpage ( sourcechips) with a view to establishing new trading relationships.”

Mr. Bourke concluded “Today’s launch is particularly timely, as we prepare to celebrate National Potato Day on Friday October 1st.”

Other findings in the Bord Bia research from the nationally representative online survey was carried out by Coyne Research amongst 1,000 adults aged 18+.

·       Circa 1 in 4 Irish adults go to traditional chippers to buy chips at least on a weekly basis.

·       Males and Millennials (23-37) go to the chipper to buy chips most often.

·       Reputation of chipper and the appearance of chips are the most important factors that make up great chipper chips.

·       There is a lack of awareness of where the majority of potatoes used to make chipper chips come from. Approximately 3 in 4 are likely to support a chipper that sources locally grown potatoes to make their chips.

·       Circa 7 in 10 would consider it useful to know the country of origin of the potatoes used in their usual chipper indicated through signage or recognised marks (e.g. Bord Bia Quality Mark) within the chipper.

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