Fears for crisp supplies as drought conditions see potato stocks run low

Tom Keogh at Keogh's farm and crisp factory in Oldtown, Co. Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Tom Keogh at Keogh's farm and crisp factory in Oldtown, Co. Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Claire Fox and Rachel Farrell

Crisp manufacturers nationwide could be in danger of running out of potato supplies if the drought weather conditions continue, one of Ireland’s leading crisp and potato producer has warned.

Tom Keogh of Keogh’s Crisps told FarmIreland that while there are still enough 2017 old potato reserves to keep crisp supplies afloat, he said if the hot and dry weather conditions continue for another two weeks, it will make supplies tight later in the year.

“As far as the 2017 crop is concerned everything is fine and we can use that up until late August. Potatoes that have been planted in April and May are a different story though. They’ve stopped growing because there’s so little moisture in the ground and we can only get water to 10pc of the crop,” he said.

“It’s not looking good. If conditions carry on for the next two weeks, it’ll have a huge impact in late 2018 and will affect the whole country.”

Mr Keogh added that he feels yield will be so low that retailers will raise the price of potatoes and that it will be a struggle to import supplies from the UK as they are also enduring similar weather conditions.

“We’re estimating that yield will be so low that there won’t be enough to supply the market and that there may see an increase in retail prices. We’re not alone, the UK is experiencing the same drought conditions, so I’m mot sure where extra supply could come from,” he said.

At present Keoghs do not import any of their potatoes from the UK and only import a small percentage of baby potatoes from France. Mr Keogh feels that the market will have to be managed very carefully if Irish crisp suppliers are to feed the masses.

“We’ve been increasing our acreage year-on-year so we’re hoping that’ll help us but if the dry weather continues it will be very tight and difficult for all crisp manufacturers to supply demand.”

With over 80 staff members and 400 acres of land, the Keogh family have been farming the land for over 200 years. They launched their range of crisps in 2011 and produce their products onsite in north County Dublin.  

Potatoes stop growing once it hits over 25c and while the Keoghs have seen warm conditions before, they've never seen it this dry.

The heatwave hasn't hindered crisps sales however, with their chorizo and cherry tomato flavour a hit among sun seekers so far. 

Online Editors