The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has called for potato growers to “receive a fair share of the retail value” for their produce.
IFA president Tim Cullinan warned that it is potato growers who “carry all of the risk while the facilitators and retailers take the lion’s share of the margin”.
He made the comments at the National Potato Conference in Co Meath on Tuesday.
The IFA president insisted that the newly-approved Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain should ensure a fair share of the potato consumer price is paid back to farmers and unfair trading practices are eliminated.
“The Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain is now approved and a budget is in place. This office will be crucial in ensuring a fair share of the consumer euro goes to farmers and in regulating unfair trading practices,” he said.
Cullinan said that potato farmers have faced “all-time high” input costs, uncertainty in the supply chain and a tough growing season and that, therefore, now more than ever, they need a fair price to maintain viability.
“If there isn’t a viable price for farmers for their work and investment, then we will see more farmers in horticulture and potato sectors go out of business,” he said.
The Tipperary farmer said that an IFA-commissioned report by economist Jim Power found that that the average retail price of potatoes declined by some 14.6% between January 2010 and January 2021.
IFA potato chair Sean Ryan also said potato growers’ incomes are “unsustainable” and warned that the farm gate price of the product must rise to cover storage costs alone.
“Retailers and packers or merchants must act now to address this if we are to have a potato industry in the future,” he said.