Irish potatoes could be exported to UK and Europe over the coming days

Rumours are circulating that a boat is being organised to export Irish potatoes to either the UK or mainland Europe over the coming weeks.

An IFA source said that he was not aware of this development but admitted that such a move would certainly help boost grower prices in the short term.

“There will be a lot of potatoes coming out of the ground over the coming days. And anything that can be done to get this produce off the fresh market will help boost farmer returns.

“There is a general expectation that potato prices will strengthen significantly once the produce sold straight from the field has been put through the system. The futures’ market for potatoes is currently up 20% year-on-year. And this is fuelling expectation that prices will be strong this winter.”

According to the IFA, this year’s potato acreage in Ireland is actually up 4% on 2015, but yields will be down by an average of 5%. The equivalent figures for the UK are plus 4% and minus 15%. Grade 1 Rooster, sold to merchants in one tonne boxes, is selling for between €320/t to €380/t.

“These prices are on a par with what was available this time last year. But there is now every prospect of merchants having to pay significantly more for potatoes coming out of store later in the season,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Cork grower David Flynn agrees that potato prices are likely to strengthen over the coming months.

“Fundamentally, it’s all about what happens in the UK. If the market there starts to take off, Ireland will follow.

“In our own case yields are down by at least 15% this year. We grow a mix British Queen, Kerr’s Pink and Golden Wonder, all high dry matter white varieties.

“The merchant trade is currently paying up to €400/t for potatoes with retailers offering up to €500.”