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Price of spuds shoots up

A summer of wet weather has affected the potato harvest, pushing the farmgate price up.

Image: Ramon grosso dolarea via Shutterstock

FRESH DATA FROM the Central Statistics Office has revealed a stark increase in the farmgate price of potatoes following a challenging harvest season for farmers in Ireland.

The Agricultural Price Index for August detailed a 177.2 per cent yearly increase in the price charged by the producer for potatoes. That follows a significant annual jump of 155.4 per cent noted in the previous month.

Elaine Farrell, the Irish Farmers’ Association executive secretary for the potato sector, told TheJournal.ie that the figures reflect the shortage of supply over the summer months.

“The extreme weather has meant growers haven’t been able to harvest the crop,” she explained, adding that the data for July and August also shows the volatility in the market price.

A tonne of potatoes has ranged in price from €80 to €600 so far this year, according to Farrell. In August 2011, the price for producers was “extremely low – even lower than the base price used by the CSO”.

“In the short-term, this is a good news story for the Irish grower but the totality of the year and the costs involved in farming need to be taken into account. Potato growers have lost money in the last few years. They continue to face difficulties harvesting their crop and getting a price that will cover there costs and provide a margin for themselves.”

Viacheslav Voronovich, a statistician with the CSO, said the sharp increase would not automatically be seen by consumers in the supermarket. There are a number of people in the supply chain so the farmgate price in Ireland would not necessarily impact the end-product, he told TheJournal.ie. However, the latest Consumer Price Index showed that there has been some increase passed on to the consumer as the cost of spuds in the supermarket or grocers rose 4.4 per cent during September.

A 2.5kg bag of Irish Kerrs Pink potatoes will now set you back about €5.69 in Tesco.

Other outputs and inputs

Despite the rising costs of potatoes and other crops, the overall value of farm output decreased by 0.3 per cent in the month of August when compared with July. Input costs during the same period rose by 1.7 per cent.

In the year, the input price index was up 5.1 per cent but offset somewhat by a 4.3 per cent increase in the output price index.

Farmers continued to pay more for energy, seeds, feeding stuffs and fertiliser during the month, while the farmgate prices for poultry, eggs, pigs, cattle and sheep all increased. However, the price charged by milk producers fell by 13.6 per cent.

Inflation eases to 1.6 per cent despite rise in clothing and alcohol prices

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