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Minister McEntee visits Meade Potato Company to mark National Potato Day

Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today visited Meade Potato Company, Navan, Co. Meath in advance of National Potato Day which is taking place on Saturday 25th August.

The Minister commented "The aim of National Potato Day is to bring a national focus on the potato as a key ingredient in the Irish diet, highlight the role it plays in a healthy balanced diet and to promote increased consumption. I would encourage everyone to enjoy one of the over fifteen varieties of potatoes grown in Ireland. Potatoes are healthy as they have several very strong proven health benefits: an average potato has less than 100 calories, are virtually fat free and are high in Vitamin C and potassium".

Minister McEntee toured Meade Potato Company's growing fields and spoke with growers to get an update on the challenges the sector is facing. The Minister noted that there are many positive factors at work within the potato sector including committed growers with wide expertise in producing a quality product and great consumer loyalty to certain varieties which are produced in Ireland. The variety 'Rooster' continues to dominate the market with over 55% of market share. Minister McEntee further noted that Ireland's total production area in 2012 was over 8,700 hectares. The Minister commented that "the Irish horticulture industry, including non-food crops and potatoes, was valued at approximately €400 million in 2011 or 6.4% of total agricultural output. My Department continues to encourage the production of fruit and vegetables in Ireland and provision of €3.25 million of grant aid for the commercial horticultural sector was made for this year".

In addition, all of the main stakeholders in the potato sector have been involved, since 2008, in campaigns to encourage primary schools to grow potatoes.  The 'Incredible Edibles' Programme was introduced in 2009 and is co-funded by Bord Bia. The Programme aims to positively promote the role of fruit and vegetables in a balanced diet and to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables.  Over 70% of primary schools have registered to participate in the programme. The Minister encourages people to visit the Potato Industry website http://www.potato.ie/ which is an initiative of the IPF (Irish Potato Federation) supported by Bord Bia. The aim of the website is to promote the consumption of potatoes as well as providing background information on the potato and the potato industry in Ireland. This website is a valuable source of information on all aspects relating to the potato, for example, origin, history, nutritional information and a wide range of exciting recipes.

In conclusion, the Minister stated that he hoped to see National Potato Day go from strength to strength in the future.

PR 171/12 IMG 8705 - 24.08.2012

Date Released: 24 August 2012