Kilkenny's O'Shea Farm and Iverk lead potato chip shop charge for Ireland

Most potatoes for chippers are imported - but a local business is leading the way to change that


Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett encourages potato industry to pursue €20 million Irish chip shop opportunity

Today is National Potato Day - and O'Shea Farms/Iverk Produce in South Kilkenny are leading the charge to get Irish-grown potatoes into our chip shops.

Ireland - despite being a nation famous for potatoes and growing around 300,000 tonnes per annum for domestic consumption - imports 80,000 tonnes, or €45 million worth, of potatoes per annum. Around 64,000 (€33 million) tonnes comes from the UK. The majority of these fresh potato imports are used by chip shop owners. 

The reason not many farmers here grow these types of potatoes is because they need specialised storage at 8 degrees, which is expensive to build. 

But local business O'Shea Farms (Piltown) have been working in partnership with Meadowfresh Foods (Waterford) for several years, and with their food processing no potato is wasted, meaning better returns for the 40 growers involved.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has welcomed a new initiative aimed at helping Irish potato growers get their produce into Irish chip shops.

“Growing chipping potatoes is a specialist operation, and the market for them is valued at approximately €20 million per year,” the Minister said. “This is a welcome development which will shorten the supply chain and bring plant bio security benefits, making it a significant step forward for the sector.”

In 2019, as part of the ‘chipping potato’ project, Bord Bia undertook consumer and trade research to understand both the Irish consumer and independent chip shop owner’s perspective. The research revealed that over 66% of Irish consumers incorrectly assume that the potatoes used to make the majority of chipper chips come from Ireland.

Approximately three in four are likely to support a chipper that sources locally grown potatoes, while 70% would consider it useful to know the country of origin of the potatoes used in their usual chipper through signage or recognised marks. Texture of the chips, reputation of chipper and the appearance of chips were cited as the most important factors in making great chipper chips.

From the trade side, Lorcan Bourke, Fresh Produce and Potato Manager, Bord Bia was encouraged by the research findings.

“Some chip shop owners have already successfully put a local supply chain relationship in place, demonstrating that Irish growers can grow chipping potatoes of excellent quality," he said.

"Many of the chip shop owners working with locally grown potatoes saw local supply as a great advantage in their communications with customers. I firmly believe it is a win-win situation and would encourage any grower or chip shop owner willing to support the initiative to visit with a view to establishing new trading relationships.”

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