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New potato partnership bids to ‘eliminate’ reliance on imported chips

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‘Highest standard’: Potatoes being harvested on the O’Shea farm at Ardfinnan, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

‘Highest standard’: Potatoes being harvested on the O’Shea farm at Ardfinnan, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Potatoes being harvested on the O'Shea farm

Potatoes being harvested on the O'Shea farm

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‘Highest standard’: Potatoes being harvested on the O’Shea farm at Ardfinnan, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

A new partnership could see Ireland back producing significant amounts of chips for chip shops and distributors throughout the country.

O’Shea Farms from Piltown, Co Kilkenny have joined forces with Meadowfresh Foods in Tallow, Co Waterford to market and supply fresh Irish chipping potatoes.

According to TJ O’Shea, director of O’Shea Farms, a lot of chip shops and restaurants want to use Irish-grown potatoes but have trouble sourcing them.

“The whole idea is to eliminate the country’s reliance on imported potatoes and promote the production of Irish-grown potatoes,” he said.

“Traditionally, Irish chip shops have been using imported potatoes to make fresh chips, with the country importing over 80,000t of potatoes every year.

“Chip shops prefer Markie potatoes because they are a decent size, have very few eyes and fry to a lovely creamy-white colour.”

“That’s where we come in: our growers grow the potatoes to the highest standard. Some of them have specialised storage facilities for chipping potatoes. They then pack the potatoes and Meadowfresh distribute them.

“The yield from Markie is similar to the yield from common mainstream potatoes, but they way they’re stored is different.

“Potatoes for chipping must be stored at 8°C as opposed to 3°C, which other potatoes such as Roosters are generally stored at.

“This is because, when the temperature goes down, the starch in the potatoes converts to sugar, which makes them fry brown. Chip shops don’t want brown chips.”

O’Shea Farms have a pool of over 40 growers throughout the country supplying potatoes to them for storage, packing and distribution.

“We send the chipping potatoes directly to the storage units from the fields where they are bagged in 25kg bags before they are transported to Meadowfresh Foods for distribution,” says Mr O’Shea.

“Meadowfresh fry-test every batch they receive before distributing them, whole and unwashed they’re left unwashed as this helps to naturally preserve the potatoes before use. The chip shops and restaurants then chip them themselves.”

The partnership is in conjunction with the Potato Development Group, an industry body which aims to increase the volume of home-grown potatoes sold in Irish chip shops and restaurants.

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