IFA Say Potato Growers Face 'Wipeout'

The Irish farmer's union has slammed retailers for "pocketing" the majority of profits on potato sales, which they claim is threatening to drive farmers into bankruptcy.

Speaking ahead of an emergency meeting in the Irish Farm Centre on Thursday evening, to address the crisis in the potato sector, IFA President John Bryan said growers are facing "wipeout" as retailers and packers take up to 80% of the final consumer price while farmers "go broke".

John Bryan said, “With average farmgate prices at €130 per tonne, and retail prices averaging €500 per tonne, it is clear for anyone to see that the situation is totally inequitable. Farmers need a doubling of the price paid to them to break even, and I am challenging the retail multiple bosses to bring more equity into the situation for growers.”

Mr Bryan said excessive profiteering must end and growers must get "fair play".

"It is not acceptable that retailers drive primary producers into bankruptcy because of a short-term oversupply situation.”

The IFA president said that after a season of over production in 2010, which resulted in the export of close to 70,000 tonnes of potatoes, Irish potato growers made a conscious business decision to reduce the national planted acreage by up to 13% last year.

After a favourable growing season and higher than normal yields created a short term over supply in the industry, Irish potato production was back by an estimated 60,000 tonnes, which Mr Bryan said would suggest the market is more in balance than in oversupply.

Also commenting, IFA National Potato Chairman Thomas Carpenter said: “Large retail multiples sell up to 80% of fresh potatoes grown in Ireland and therefore have significant control in this sector. Retailers, as key stakeholders in the food supply chain, have a responsibility to their growers and to the future of the industry in this country. They must act now.”


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