Business Irish

Sunday 15 December 2019

Paddy loves spuds but it might not be wise to grow them

Figures released by Bord Bia show that the spud features in a whopping 40pc of Irish evening meals.
Figures released by Bord Bia show that the spud features in a whopping 40pc of Irish evening meals.
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

If you're looking to break in to the Irish food market, you might consider starting with what Paddy knows and loves best: the potato.

Figures released by Bord Bia show that the spud features in a whopping 40pc of Irish evening meals.

Lagging behind in second place in the carbohydrate stakes are rice, noodles and pasta, at least one of which features in 27pc of Irish meals.

Third place went to chips, wedges and waffles at 17pc, which of course are just other ways of presenting a potato.

The lesson? We really love our spuds.

"We go for the dry, floury potato, which has a mealy texture," IFA potato committee chairman Eddie Doyle says.

"Flavour is a big thing here, where in other countries potatoes are an ingredient more than the main constituent of a meal," he adds.

But Mr Doyle says that despite our enduring love, the potato market isn't a very nice place to be. "The returns growers have been getting are very poor, we suffer from frequent bad weather in Ireland, which leads to a lot more expense growing here and it's not always appreciated by our customers," he said, adding that the potato market is contracting at the moment,

"Every time you turn on the telly, Uncle Ben's rice is being advertised or Domino's pizza… all the other carbs. And the dieticians overall would be taking carbs out of diets, so all that has done us harm over time."

In the Bord Bia survey, 85pc of respondents had vegetables with their evening meal, and of those 52pc had carrots.

Bugs Bunny's favourite snack is Ireland's favourite vegetable, so would punters be advised to start growing a few of those things?

"Like all businesses, to make entrance into it requires a substantial amount of capital," says Matt Foley, IFA vegetables and protected crops chairman.

"In Ireland now, we only have a handful of carrot growers left who are quite a size, and even with their size they do struggle with the economies of scale competing with our partners over in England and the continent," he adds.

"To gain entry into any of the vegetable sections is very, very difficult."

The survey shows that our favourite meal is the reliable meat and two veg. Beef is king of the red meat market and features in 56pc of evening meals. Mince is the most popular cut of beef, followed by steak.

For cold drinks, we're most partial to a glass of tap water, though Irish Water has that market rather well cornered off.

Milk might be an option for investors though. That's Ireland's second most popular cold drink, with 32pc of respondents having it with the previous night's meal.

The survey also looked at Irish people's social eating habits, and it appears that the family meal is alive and well, as 84pc of families said they all ate at the same time.

But 35pc of meals had an extra guest who's not always welcomed by everyone: the tv.

Irish Independent

Also in Business