IFA President Joe Healy has expressed concern at the recent discounting of potatoes by a number of retailers in the run up to Christmas, saying these promotions can have a detrimental effect on what is a fragile market.

Healy warned retailers that IFA would hold them directly responsible for any negative consequences for potato growers that may arise from these practices.

“Christmas should be a time when potato growers benefit from the seasonal demand for potatoes.”

He questioned the reasoning for promoting the vegetable at a time of year when consumption was at its peak. With potato production levels in Ireland and across Europe at very low levels this year, Healy said it was unacceptable to be discounting product when the market was in balance.

This again illustrates the scant disregard which some retailers have for the primary producer of Quality Assured Irish grown product.

“Their sole aim is to drive footfall with no appreciation of the impact which these retail practices have further down the supply chain.”

The IFA President urged retailers to recognise and respect the massive investment potato growers have made in machinery and cold storage to ensure a continuous 12-month supply of Irish product.

He said that potatoes must be sold as a premium product and not be used in practices which undermine the primary producer.

This year saw ideal conditions for the potato harvest, with early estimates indicating that yields would be back close to 10% on last year, IFA Potato Committee Chairman Eddie Doyle said.

“Conditions were as good as ever, there was no quality problems. There was no poaching and there was no expensive drying needed this year.

“Some potato farmers may never see the likes of it again, harvest conditions were textbook this year.

“Yields were lighter this year, they were back between 2-3t/ac at least. But remember last year was an above average year.”