“Do supermarkets in Ireland make integrated pest management (IPM) impossible?” That was the question posed by Horticultural consultant, John Horgan at last week’s vegetable seminar organised by Teagasc.

The conference, which was held in Kilkenny, addressed the issue of IPM in detail. Horgan in his presentation said: “While the majority of responsible retailers and their relevant personnel engage directly or indirectly with various growers to amend or revise the specification as necessary. Some growers would neither receive definite programmes or specifications from some consolidators.”

He asked: “What implications will this have on quality, supply and IPM?”

Horgan commented: “All supermarkets will have to commit to more definite programmes and embrace IPM on a partnership basis.” In his presentation Horgan outlined a variety of reasons why supermarkets love vegetables such as they are local, fresh, great value for money, a good news story and a healthy option.

He continued by saying vegetables are attractive colourful display on shelves and also on all advertising, they are easy to promote (for example two for the price of one and/or 50 per cent extra free) and crucially they deliver a high profit margin for supermarkets.

He stated: “Fruit and vegetable departments in most supermarkets achieve possibly the highest return per m2 of shelf space of the total grocery offer.”

Horgan’s presentation also outlined the implications of IPM for growers. He said: “I believe most growers in Ireland grow quality product that compares favourably with any of our counterparts in Europe in more testing and difficult conditions.”

IPM, which came into law this year, is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimises economic, health and environmental risks, he noted.

Horgan highlighted: “Irish growers have and continue to embrace new standards and directives. Growers have continued to invest in new innovations in production techniques with massive investment in field and packhouse equipment.”

Horgan noted: “IPM needs long-term investment. Science continues to evolve and further improvement on nutrition will continue. However costs will also rise.”

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