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Can we save the spud?

Did you know there is a National Potato Conference? No? Well, there is. And it heard yesterday how we’ve fallen out of love with the spud.

Image: Saving a Potato via Shutterstock

WITH ALL OUR notions of quinoa, couscous and sweet potatoes, we’ve forgotten our roots (!), allowing the humble spud to fall out of favour.

The National Potato Conference heard from Bord Bia experts yesterday who warned that potato consumption continues to fall because consumers believe the carbohydrate is fattening,  inconvenient and ‘unexciting’.

Although it is still Ireland’s number one carb, sales are in decline and current trends could have devastating impact on the industry.

Lorcan Bourke said that if the status quo continues, sales volumes will have dropped to 139,000 tonnes by 2018.

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Junior minister at the Department of Agriculture, Tom Hayes, welcomed plans to kickstart a €1 million potato promotion campaign over the next three years.

It is hoped the EU will co-fund the project.

The TD noted that growers were having difficulties marketing their crop this year because of “the diversity of choices now open to consumers”.

As part of the campaign, the health benefits of Roosters, Records, Golden Wonders and other varieties of spuds will be pushed.

Despite a widespread perception, the potato does not contain high levels of fat. In fact they are almost fat-free with just 0.1 per cent fat content per 100 grams. They are also low in calories, according to Bord Bia, and contain no cholesterol.

“Promotion is now the way forward and the industry should invest in information and promotion measures to stimulate consumer demand for our national Irish crop,” continued Hayes.

Bourke looked at recent Bord Bia egg project as an example of how generic ad campaigns work. The ‘One a day is OK’ campaign had a major impact, he said, noting that now only 12 per cent perceive eggs to be unhealthy.

There is now a general acceptance that they are nutritious, versatile and good value.

The proposed potato campaign will aim to do the same thing. First by reminding Irish people that they “love their spuds” and that they are tasty.

According to Bord Bia though, consumers need science-based assurances about the nutritional benefits of a natural, healthy carbohydrate in their diet.

Consumers also need new ways of cooking the potato in a versatile, convenient way, added Bourke.

Quinoa, lads? ‘Twas far from quinoa we were reared.

Do you still eat spuds?


Poll Results:






Read: Students win prize for study that found the potato is not the most Irish vegetable

DailyEdge.ie: 7 people who think the Irish only eat potatoes

2011: Learn to love the spud again – Bord Bia

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