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Learn to love the spud again - Bord Bia

They are actually the best of the carbs, says the food board as it embarks on a study to find out why Irish people seem to have fallen out of love with the potato.

Love spuds (get it?)
Love spuds (get it?)
Image: acasasola via Flickr

BORD BIA IS embarking on a mission to find out why the people of Ireland are choosing rice and pasta over the nation’s old favourite – the spud.

People in Ireland are no longer buying potatoes in the same large volumes as previously seen so the food board has taken measures to address the situation.

“We need to investigate it,” says Lorcan Bourke from Bord Bia.

The group has put together a package – including market research and a website dedicated to the spud – to urge people to rediscover how good potatoes really are.

Ten years ago, families bought 10kg sacks of potatoes but now much smaller packs are favoured. In 2010, the value of potato sales fell by about 10 per cent.

Bourke told TheJournal.ie that despite the decline in sales the potato remains Ireland’s “main carbohydrate”.

We know that Irish people love their potatoes. They prefer the taste and they view them as a healthy option.”

However, two problems have emerged – the Atkins Diet and the Convenience Factor.

People perceive potatoes to be less convenient when compared with rice or pasta, explains Bourke, especially when they are cooked in a conventional manner – boiled for 20 to 25 minutes.

However, it is the widespread misconception that potatoes are fattening that is doing the most damage to the inoffensive spud.

“It goes back to the Atkins Diet,” says Bourke. “We’re trying to address that. If you look at them against past and rice – potatoes have the least fat.”

There is just 0.1 grams of fat per 100 grams of potato but he concedes there could be an issue if people lace them with butter.

Bord Bia is currently commissioning market research to find out why potatoes are losing their share of the carbohydrate market.

Bourke lists off the other carb-options open to people, including pizza, tortillas, breads, naans, couscous and other ethnic foods.

We want to look at them and see how they are selling, how they are marketed, and look at how we can borrow some of the cues used in the supermarket.”

A tender is currently out for a market research team to conduct a survey into the “Consumer Behaviour and Attitudes towards Consumption and Usage of Potatoes and other Carbohydrate Options in Ireland“.

Growers in Ireland produce about €180 million worth of potatoes each year and Bourke says that buying Irish potatoes supports Irish jobs.

A potato website launched by Bord Bia earlier this year includes recipes, health and nutrition facts and interesting trivia about potatoes.

Did you know that the word spud comes from spuds (the tools used to dig holes before planting) or that 2008 was the UN International Year of the Potato?

It also includes one more Seán O’Brien fact that we did not know – he seemingly loves his spuds.

-Additional reporting by Michael Freeman

For more information, check out the spud-obsessed website>

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