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Potato Council Report May 2024

'Irish home consumption and retail trade remains strong'

With the weather remaining very mixed, Irish home consumption and retail trade remains strong. Some planting progress was made last week when the weather allowed, however, it took the ground a few days to dry out before any groundwork could commence. Wet weather conditions this week has halted work once again. With plantings so late this year and last season's stocks so tight, supplies will be increasingly tight in late June/July.

Across Europe, planting is still very slow, with cold weather and frequent showers delaying progress. Hail storms in Holland last week are reported to have caused damage to emerging crops, including onions. In Northern France, only 5% is planted at best. In Belgium and Holland, around 25% of the early area is planted.

Food regulator
The office of the new Agri-Food Regulator was launched in December. This new State body tasked with regulating the food supply chain, An Rialálaí Agrabhia, will play a very important role in bringing fairness back into our food supply chain and level the playing pitch in negotiations between farmers, processors and retailers. Former IFA President Joe Healy will chair the Board.

Unharvested potato crops
Harvest 2023 has been reported as one of the most difficult in recent memory. Widespread flooding in October further compounded the difficult conditions and it was almost inevitable that losses would occur. Growers managed to get the majority of the crops out of the ground, which was referred to as a 'salvage operation' by many. According to a survey IFA conducted in January, some 650 acres remain unharvested. There has not been an opportunity to harvest any of this acreage due to weather conditions. Since sharp frost conditions in January when drills were waterlogged and the plants sat exposed in drills, it is likely that approximately 50% of this acreage is now unsalable, even if it was harvested.


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