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Brexit reality dawns for Irish potato growers

Brexit reality dawns for Irish potato growers

The potato trade has been warned to have all seed potatoes for next year's crop imported from Britain by December 31.

A trade notice issued by the Irish Department of Agriculture said imports of 'certified seed and ware potatoes' from Britain will be prohibited from the end of 2020 when the UK leaves the EU.

The notice 'strongly encouraged' importers to have all shipments of seed potatoes and ware from Britain landed in Ireland before January 1.

Around 8,500ha of potatoes are planted in Ireland each spring, with the country harvesting 350,000-400,000 tonnes annually.

However, Ireland imports 5,500-6,000 tonnes of certified seed potatoes. In addition, between 80,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes of ware potatoes are imported from Britain each year. These are primarily for the fresh chip market, as well as some salad potatoes, and peeled product for the service trade.

Scotland supplied 60pc of Ireland's imported seed potatoes last year, with 18pc coming from Northern Ireland, and a further 10pc from England. The remainder come from Europe.

Around 4,000-4,500 tonnes of seed potatoes are grown locally, with the remainder harvested by growers themselves from the main crop.