Today (Friday, October 1) is Bord Bia’s National Potato Day, the annual celebration of one of Ireland’s favourite vegetables – the potato.

Recent Kantar Worldpanel statistics show that fresh potato purchasing in Ireland has grown steadily over the last five years, with the volume of retail sales 17% higher than in 2017.

Irish potato growers produced an estimated 37 million, or 294,370t, of potatoes in 2020.

Bord Bia potato promotion

This year Bord Bia is showing consumers that when it comes to creating delicious meals, ‘it all starts with potatoes’.

The marketing agency has said that whether it’s a warming potato curry after a hike, a nutritious potato salad or a shepherd’s pie for a mid-week family meal, potato dishes are perfect for nearly every lifestyle, activity and meal occasion.

As part of the annual celebrations, National Potato Day campaign ambassador, chef Kwanghi Chan, has shared three Asian-inspired potato dishes, which showcase the versatility of the vegetable.

According to Kwanghi: “So many dishes can start with potatoes because they are such a versatile ingredient.

“A lot of people don’t realise it, but potatoes are ideal to use in Asian cooking as they carry the flavours of spices and herbs so well.

“Potatoes are also really simple and convenient to cook with. You can leave the skin on, chop into small cubes and they will cook in 10 minutes.

“My top three suggestions for delicious potato meals are to add potatoes to mixed vegetable stir-fries, creamy curries or to an easy-to-make homemade spice bag,” he added.

National Potato Day

Bord Bia said that National Potato Day also provides an opportunity to celebrate Irish potato growers, who harvested just under 300,000t of potatoes in 2020.

John Sheridan from Kilberry Co. Meath began growing potatoes professionally in 1967. His son Mark now farms the land with his cousin Noel.

Mark Sheridan said: “When my father started growing potatoes, back then on a good day they could harvest 10-12t, all of which were handpicked. Now, we are harvesting 400t per day using mechanisation.

“The development of the Rooster variety of potato in Ireland transformed potato farming, with its beautiful clean pinkish skin finish that people like. The arrival of Rooster and increased mechanisation gave our business a whole new start.”

Speaking about the campaign, Lorcan Bourke, sector manager of fresh produce and potatoes in Bord Bia said: “There are circa 700 registered potato growers in Ireland, and almost half of those are farming larger field-scale commercial operations, which shows the importance of this sector.

“Potatoes remain one of Ireland’s favourite carbohydrates which is testament to their versatility, and true to the old Irish adage that ‘when there’s a bag of potatoes in the house, there’s a meal in the home’.

“It is really encouraging to see the growth in potato sales over the last five years. Covid-19 was certainly a driver in the early part of 2020 as consumers turned to familiar foods,” he continued.

“Prior to this, potato sales had been increasing as consumers recognise the role they can play in a healthy and balanced diet. As the nation embraced more outdoor activities during lockdown, we are keen to highlight the role that potatoes can play in active lifestyles.”

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) 2020 production tonnage equates to 294,370t produced in 2020. The estimated weight for eight medium-sized potatoes is 1kg.

Recently, Minister of State at DAFM, Pippa Hackett, welcomed an initiative which is aimed at helping Irish potato growers get their produce into Irish chip shops.