Post-Brexit: Irish fear loss of British potatoes

Many of the potatoes consumed in Ireland come from Britain, and some Irish fear that this supply chain is about to be damaged by Brexit. This fear is certainly not alleviated by the warning from the Irish Department of Agriculture, stating that all British potatoes, including seed plants, will be banned from importation once transition arrangements end on January 1.

The department has told growers, processors and distributors that even in the event of a trade deal, the flow of British potatoes to Ireland will stop on January 1, not to be restored for months. The reason for this is that Britain’s application to export potatoes ‘must go through the EU law-making process’.

Irish fast food chains are scrambling to find alternative sources for the 80,000 tons of British-made chips normally consumed in Ireland annually. Only about 10,000 tons of chip-grade potatoes are grown within Ireland.

Most Irish-grown potato varieties are good for baking and mashing, but are too high in sugar content to deep-fry well. Such chips can turn out as stiff as cardboard because they don’t absorb oil effectively.

As explained on¸ potato producers along England’s east coast grow chip-friendly varieties such as Maris Piper, but Ireland’s own potato crop is heavily dependent on imported seed potatoes from Britain. Scotland supplies around three-fifths of Irish needs.

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