The upcoming World Potato Congress (WPC) in Dublin will be an opportunity to showcase the true nutritional value of the ‘humble spud’.
“The potato is a nutrition-packed food source that meets the needs of all consumers,” commented Liam Glennon, the man chairing the committee that has been set up to organise the WPC.
“This is a story that needs to be told, not just here in Ireland but around the world.
“In many ways our industry has failed to communicate the immense dietary benefits that potatoes can deliver. However, the WPC will represent a turning point, where this matter is concerned.”
According to Glennon, recent research carried out in the U.S has confirmed the link between improved athletic performance and the regular inclusion of potatoes in the diet.
He said: “Discussing the dietary benefits of potatoes will be a key theme of the upcoming WPC.”
Another core theme of the event will be the profiling of potatoes as a sustainable food source in countries around the world.
“The coming years will see a strong focus placed on producing food using less artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Organic farming, or forms of production that come very close to this criterion, are the future,” Glennon added.
“The good news is that potatoes complement these forms of production. They produce high yields within a limited area of ground and make very efficient use of water.
“It is these same properties that make potatoes a strong option when it comes to delivering higher levels of food security in developing countries.”
The WPC 2022 congress theme is 'the changing world of the potato'. It has been estimated that the event will contribute €1.5 million to the Irish economy during the last week of May and first week of June.
“The event will represent a tremendous networking opportunity for everyone taking part. And, of course, the Irish potato industry will benefit significantly from this," Glennon stated.
“But above all else, we want to platform the fact that potatoes are a totally wholesome, nutritious and healthy food.”
Prior to the Famine, approximately 2 million acres of land were planted out across Ireland in potatoes. Today, that figure has shrunk to just 20,000ac.
While the organisers of the WPC will want to reflect on the impact of the Famine, Liam Glennon is very keen that the main focus of the event will be firmly placed on looking forward.
“The fact is that potatoes have such an important role to play in the food industries of so many countries around the world," he concluded.