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Minister Shane McEntee welcomes start to 'Official Strawberry Season'

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, visited Pat Clarke's strawberry farm in Stamullen, Co. Meath to sample some of his finest strawberries and witness exactly what is involved in producing one of the country's most popular fruit crops.

This year, Irish strawberry growers will pick over 5,000 tonnes of top quality strawberries with the vast majority of these being picked between now and the end of August. Speaking during his visit to the Clarke's family farm, the Minister of State said he was very impressed by the level of efficiency and the attention to detail that is involved in modern day strawberry production.  "Strawberry production is one of the real success stories in Irish horticulture with a very strong market for the high quality fruit produced by Irish growers. Irish growers have reacted positively to this demand and have expanded production and improved technical efficiency to the extent that we are now much less reliant on imports and we are even developing export markets for the crop", said the Minister.

The Minister also took the opportunity to urge the public to check Country of Origin and look for the Bord Bia Quality Assurance logo each time they purchase strawberries, or any other fresh fruit and vegetables."By seeking Irish quality assured produce we are supporting Irish producers, Irish jobs and making the strongest contribution to the Irish economy while also getting excellent value for money through purchase of high quality food that has been produced and delivered to the highest standards with minimal impact on the environment" he said. 

Note for Editors

In 2011 output at farm gate level for the Irish soft fruit sector was valued at an estimated €29m with strawberries accounting for over 90% of this.

Ireland's strawberry industry has developed significantly in recent years from a situation where largely field based production meant harvesting was very much concentrated in the traditional June-July period and much of the crop was destined for low value processing.  While production still peaks in summer, Irish strawberry growers now produce top quality fruit from early April right through to mid-November largely using polythene based protective cropping structures which allow them to achieve premium prices.

PR108/12 Photo2 - 18.05.2012

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister of State Shane McEntee visited Pat Clarke's strawberry farm in Stamullen, Co. Meath to sample some of his finest strawberries and witness exactly what is involved in producing one of the country's most popular fruit crops.

PR108/12 Photo3 - 18.05.2012

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of State Shane McEntee and Chef Neven Maguire with Pat Clarke, during their visit to Mr Clarke's strawberry farm in Stamullen, Co. Meath.

PR108/12 Photo1 - 18.05.2012

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of State Shane McEntee and Chef Neven Maguire tasting some of the finest strawberries during their visit to Pat Clarke's strawberry farm in Stamullen, Co. Meath

Date Released: 18 May 2012