New €1m campaign to promote potato consumption in Ireland

A new €1m marketing campaign was launched today (September 17) to boost potato consumption among Irish consumers, by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

Bord Bia will coordinate and manage the three-year campaign which has been designed to dispel fattening myths around potatoes, positioning them as naturally fat-free, tasty and versatile.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, retail sales of fresh potatoes in Ireland have declined by 25% over the last decade and by as much as one-third between 2002 and 2014.

Speaking at today’s launch Minister Coveney said that the potato is part of our culture like no other food, inextricably linked to Ireland’s story and part of who we are.

“This campaign will bring the different varieties and versatility of the Irish potato to a younger generation,” he said.

The initiative will be co-funded by the EU, Ireland’s potato industry and the Department of Agriculture and will be run in conjunction with the British Potato Council.

The overall strategy is to implement a single umbrella campaign, across both the Irish and British market, which will raise the image and profile of potatoes, and re-establish their relevance within the weekly shopping basket.

The Minister welcomed the European Commission’s decision to approve a total fund of €4.6m to promote potatoes on the Irish and British markets over the next three years of which 50% will be funded by the EU.

My department is also availing of the opportunity to grant financial support to the Irish potato industry for this positive promotional activity.

“Combined with industry funding the total campaign will be worth €1m over the three years in Ireland,” he said.

Mike Neary, Horticulture Manager at Bord Bia, highlighted some of the challenges facing the industry.

“Potatoes are still Ireland’s preferred main meal carbohydrate, however shoppers under-45 account for only 33% of potato sales and these consumers will ultimately make up a major part of the total market in the years to come.

“Younger consumers view potatoes as a traditional, unexciting food and less convenient than modern carbs such as pasta and rice,” he said.

The new promotional campaign, entitled “Potatoes – more than a bit on the side”, will focus on younger consumers, in particular, 22-44-year-old females.

Neary said that we really need to challenge consumer perceptions of fresh potatoes – particularly amongst younger age groups – in order to combat declining consumption.

“This integrated campaign will highlight the fact that potatoes offer enormous potential within the world of modern cooking and build awareness of the added health and nutritional benefits of potatoes in comparison to competitor carbohydrates,” he said.

The campaign will include print and digital advertising and it will kick off with National Potato Day on Friday, October 2.

It is estimated a total of 9,122ha of potatoes were grown in Ireland in 2014 producing 350,000t. Last year, the retail market was valued at €184m.

The main varieties of potatoes grown in Ireland include Rooster (60%), Kerr Pinks (8%), Queens (8%) and Whites (7%).

Meath, Dublin, Wexford, Louth, Donegal and Cork are the largest potato growing counties with approximately 500 active potato growers in Ireland.

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