Ireland has its first dedicated potato supplier to chippers

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett pictured with Marie Geary, Meadowfresh Farm. The department is encouraging the potato industry to pursue the EUR 20 million (about USD 23 million) Irish chip shop secto

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett pictured with Marie Geary, Meadowfresh Farm. The department is encouraging the potato industry to pursue the EUR 20 million (about USD 23 million) Irish chip shop sector.

十月 12, 2021
The hurling rivalry between Waterford and Kilkenny has always been intense, but it is a different story in the food industry when the chips are down as two food companies have recently shown. Meadowfresh Foods in Tallow, Co. Waterford and O'Shea Farms/Iverk Produce, based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, have joined forces to become Ireland’s first dedicated fresh chipping potato packer and distributor.

Over the past two years, they have engaged with Bord Bia, Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and the Irish Farmers Association to support the chipping potato project. They have now proceeded to grow specific crops for the Irish chip shop channel with a view to increasing the volume of home-grown potatoes sold in Irish chip shops.

Meadowfresh is a family business established in 1993 by farming brothers John and Mark Geary at Tallow in the Blackwater Valley, close to the River Bride, where the climate is mild, and the soil is rich in nutrients and ideal for horticulture.

John Geary, the director, said they developed the idea of preparing quality local produce at a time when the market for potatoes was unreliable. They saw that certain industries needed time reduction in their food preparation. Operations began at small premises in West Street in Tallow. This was extended to meet expanding production in 1994 and again in 1996.

John Geary:
"We settled into a modern 32,000 sq ft production facility at Youghal Road, Tallow in 2002. We also grow our own potato crop varieties which are particularly suited to the fast-food fresh chip market. Today over 150 products are processed, packed, and distributed daily."
O’Shea Farms, a fourth-generation business, supplies potatoes to Iverk Produce all year round. Modern facilities in Piltown include temperature-controlled storage and logistical tracking systems. Since the 1830s the O’Shea family have farmed on the banks of the River Suir in Piltown. The family came from Kerry and settled in Ardclone, where they purchased 42 acres of land.

Today the family farm over 1,500 acres, assisted by loyal staff in a rural community and working locally with 50 growing partners in the south-east. A wide variety of early and maincrop potatoes is grown. Early varieties include Premier, Home Guard, and Queens. These are harvested from mid-May to July.

Main crops include Rooster, Kerr’s Pink, Golden Wonders, and several white varieties. These are harvested from July to October. They are kept in specialist potato stores which ensures top-quality Irish potatoes are available 365 days a year. Meanwhile, the consumption of salad and baby potatoes is on the increase in Ireland. These were traditionally imported from the UK and France.

But in recent times O’Shea Farms have developed the technology to grow them in the southeast corner of Ireland where climatic conditions are suitable. They now grow over 80% of the crop needed to supply its market and aim to increase this to 100%.

They work closely with over thirty growing partners in the southeast, supplying them with technical support from their agronomists and providing them with a steady market for their crops. As members of the Irish Potato Federation, they support its campaign to improve potato consumption as a healthy food option.

Bord Bia’s Thinking House has also been working with the companies to develop new brands, which will be used to help market quality-assured branded Irish chipping potatoes.

Ireland, a nation famous for potatoes, grow some 300,000 tonnes per annum for domestic consumption but imports 80,000 tonnes. Most of these fresh potato imports are used by chip shop owners in the country which currently number over 530 independent outlets.

The new initiative aimed at helping Irish potato growers get their produce into Irish chip shops has been welcomed by Minister of State Pippa Hackett. She said it was a real opportunity for growers to supply home-grown potatoes for the Irish chip shop market.

Minister Hackett said growing chipping potatoes is a specialist operation, and the market for them is valued at some EUR 20 million (about USD 23 million) per year. Irish consumers, given the choice, will really appreciate businesses that support local growers.

Pippa Hackett, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine:
"This is a welcome development which will shorten the supply chain and bring plant biosecurity benefits, making it a significant step forward for the sector."
Bord Bia consumer and trade research in 2019 revealed that over 66% of Irish consumers (2 in 3) incorrectly assumed that the potatoes used to make most chipper chips comes from Ireland. About 3 in 4 of the respondents indicated they were likely to support a chipper that sources locally grown potatoes.

Some 70% considered it useful to know the country of origin of the potatoes used in their usual chipper through signage or recognized marks. Texture, reputation, and appearance were cited as the most important factors in making great chipper chips.

The online survey, carried out by Coyne Research amongst 1,000 adults aged 18 and over, also revealed that 1 in 4 Irish adults go to traditional chippers to buy chips at least on a weekly basis, with males and millennials (23-37) doing so most often.

Lorcan Bourke, Fresh Produce and Potato Manager, Bord Bia, described the research findings as encouraging. Some chip shop owners have already successfully put a local supply chain relationship in place, demonstrating that Irish growers can grow to chip potatoes of excellent quality. Lorcan Bourke:
"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 get in touch or visit our webpage ( with a view to establishing new trading relationships."
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