Irish potato sales increase by 24%

Today, Friday (October 2), is Bord Bia’s National Potato Day and sales of Irish potatoes increased by 24% from the middle of March to the middle of June 2020.

Approximately 8,090ha of potatoes were grown in Ireland in 2019 – producing an estimated 336,095t. Data from the Kantar World Panel also shows that the household spend on potatoes in the retail market was valued at €242 million.

The main varieties of potatoes planted in Ireland according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) are:
  • Rooster (58%);
  • Kerr’s Pinks (7%);
  • Queens (6%);
  • Whites (7%).

‘Potato Power’

For the day that’s in it Bord Bia is celebrating ‘Potato Power’ and has teamed up with Gaelic football stars Sarah Rowe (Mayo) and Sinéad Goldrick (Dublin) to promote potatoes as fuel for optimum sports performance.

Bord Bia is releasing a series of recipe videos highlighting simple kitchen skills which will allow people to expand their potato recipe repertoire.

Commenting on the celebration, Minister of State, Pippa Hackett, TD, who is responsible for the horticulture sector stated: “Potatoes are a nutritious food choice, naturally low in calories and contain little fat.

We have committed farmers producing the crop to the highest quality and standards. National Potato Day is an opportunity to celebrate a sustainably produced food that is inextricably linked to Irish culture, as well as recognise the important work of Irish growers who supply us with fresh, locally grown potatoes throughout the year.

Increase in sales

Bord Bia’s Lorcan Bourke commented on the volume of sales: “The growth in potato sales began in March this year as more Irish people began cooking and eating at home as a result of the lockdown.

“Initially people seemed to be turning to more traditional ingredients as they sought comfort foods but quite quickly, they began looking for ways to expand their cooking repertoire as they found that they had more time at home.

The exciting thing about potatoes is that once you have a potato in your home – you have the starting point for a huge range of delicious meals.

Why fuel with potatoes for sport?

Dietitian Orla Walsh has worked with Irish athletes in the lead up to the Rio Olympics and Paralympics in her role as a performance nutritionist with Athletics Ireland.

Orla believes that potatoes are an excellent natural ingredient for a nutritionally complete diet to fuel active lifestyles and she has highlighted 10 key ways they contribute to sports performance.

Orla Walsh’s 10 reasons to fuel with potatoes for sport:
  1. Sports Performance – Potatoes are an ideal source of carbohydrate which is the fuel we run on. They are incredibly important for sports performance and in contributing to the recovery of muscle function;
  2. Quick digestion – As they are naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrate, potatoes are beneficial for pre-match/training as they can be digested quickly and converted into fuel for the body;
  3. Hydration – The fluids we drink help keep us hydrated, but so does the water within our food. As potatoes are pulled straight from the soil they naturally contain a lot of water. For example, a boiled new potato is 82% water;
  4. Muscle and nerve function – Potatoes are a great source of potassium which plays a central role in muscle and nerve function. Getting the right balance is a key focus in sports nutrition;
  5. Salt-free – Lots of Irish people eat too much sodium through salt. So it’s helpful that potatoes are naturally salt-free. When potatoes contain salt it is because we have added it! Instead, teaching athletes to use some tasty, nutritious herbs and spices instead of salt is beneficial;
  6. Protein – Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass as well as keeping our bones healthy. About 10% of the calories of potatoes come from protein;
  7. Calorie intake – Fresh potatoes are fat-free. You can tailor how to enjoy potatoes in response to your current energy needs. Depending on the type of potato, 2 medium potatoes provide just 160 to 185 calories. The quantity and quality of the fat added to the potato is left up to the athlete;
  8. Brain Function – Carbohydrates are the main fuel for our brain function which helps to keep movements coordinated, the mind focused and speed and accuracy of thoughts sharp;
  9. Versatility – What makes potatoes an ideal carbohydrate source for sport is that they are also incredibly versatile. They can be eaten in so many different ways, keeping the athlete interested;
  10. Potatoes are delicious – When it comes to adequate fueling, it’s vital that the fuel source is tasty. Potatoes are delicious eaten in so many different ways.