Irish Growers Being Scammed

Published online: Aug 13, 2002
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Genetic tests are being carried out to determine if cheap potatoes are being passed off as the higher quality Irish Queens variety in a supermarket chain.

Growers claim the substitution with cheap Fanbo potatoes, usually used for fries, has resulted in the collapse of their market.

Growers say the industry faces huge losses, as consumers will switch to rice or pasta after tasting what they called awful soapy potatoes.

“It’s as if intestines of beef were being passed off as fillet steak,” one grower stated.

The Dept. of Agriculture spokesman said it has sent potatoes to government labs for testing. The Green Party had also arranged for DNA testing.

“There is no doubt the reputation of Irish growers has been damaged by this underhanded activity,” a spokesman said.

Irish Queens sell for 500 Euros (US$ 492) a ton while Fanbos sold for 150 Euros (US$147) a ton.

One retail chain was selling a 10-kilo (22-pound) bag of potatoes labeled as Irish Queens for 4.59 Euros (US$4.52) while another was selling five kilos of the variety for 5.99 Euros (US$6.78). That’s about 20.5 cents a pound against 82.4 cents a pound.

As a result, Irish growers have seen the wholesale price of Irish Queens fall from the equivalent of US$492 a ton to US$344 a tone or less on the Dublin market.