Quality key for McCurdy’s Potatoes

22 Sep , 2015  

McCurdy’s Potatoes brings their customer the highest quality potato products direct from the farm. Pre-packed potatoes are a speciality Mark McCurdy tells Irish Tractor & Agri but he is greatly concerned about the falling share of the consumer price for growers.

Now 50 years in business, McCurdy’s Potatoes is recognised as one of the biggest growers and suppliers of quality potatoes in County Antrim.

Committed to producing the highest possible standard of product by using the most advanced and environmentally responsible practices, McCurdy’s Potatoes is a family run business, with founder, Dan McCurdy, and his sons Mark and Jonathan.

McCurdy’s Potatoes is proud of its long history in the potato industry, and has built up solid relationships with leading retail chains such as Spar and Mace.

With state-of-the-art refrigerated and ambient storage, their focus on quality, service and value has been driven by the need to meet the customers’ requirements.

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our potatoes,” Mark McCurdy outlined to Irish Tractor & Agri magazine.

“The success of the business is not about growing tonnes of potatoes, it’s about getting the quality right. That’s the reason why we have been on the go for fifty years.”

Washed and packed for the retail sector, all McCurdy’s Potatoes produce is home grown and pre-packed into their trade-marked bags for distribution.

They produce eight different varieties of potato on their 125 acres throughout the season and McCurdy’s potatoes can be found on the shelves of approximately eighty different outlets within a 50 mile radius of their Antrim base.

Open to the public Monday to Saturday, 8am-7pm, restaurants can also place telephone orders and deliveries are available.

It’s obvious that the McCurdy family are passionate about their business but the current price of the potato coupled with rising input costs casts a long dark shadow over their operation at the minute.

Conditions in the market remain mixed and potato production is under threat in Ireland because the current figures are simply unsustainable.

Costs of production are running at over €200 per tonne, while the producer is receiving much less than this. Potato growers’ incomes are un-viable and the farm gate price of the product must rise as the price they receive from the market is the most important factor in determining their incomes.

Today, the growers’ share is just 26% of the consumer price, which is down from 36% four years ago. It needs to be addressed immediately, if retailers want the security of supply of Irish potatoes available to the Irish consumer.

Growers moving direct to consumers and retailers report a reasonable demand but there are reports of increased amounts of potatoes being imported into the country.

This is unacceptable to growers considering there are sufficient stocks domestically to meet demand.

The last 12 months have confirmed just how cyclical potato production in Ireland has become and many growers are getting not much more than stock feed prices for their produce.

There is an onus on the supermarkets to back up their verbal commitments to the local potato sector with action – both in terms of procurement and paying a better price.

“The current price is ridiculous, not good at all,” Mark outlined. “Stuff is moving which is better than it not moving but that is the only positive thing I can say at this point in time.

“Price is the biggest challenge facing potato growers at the moment along with competition and the unpredictability of the weather for growing.”

On a positive note, mother nature looked kindly on the potato growers in 2014 and, for once, the weather was conducive to a healthy harvest.

As Mark pointed out, Ireland’s unreliable climate can be the bane of a farmers’ life but a favourable growing season resulted in higher than normal yields for McCurdy’s Potatoes.

“2014 was a great year from a weather point of view, it was fantastic and we had a very early harvest. I’ve never seen as early a harvest before. October 17th, that’s unheard of and the quality was excellent.

“We’d be hoping for the same again this year and a better price obviously. I would be pessimistic enough about the future because of the uncertainty over the price.

“Getting the right price is the main thing. If we get a decent price for our labour and product then we’d be very happy.”

McCurdy’s Potatoes
166 Whitepark Road
Co Antrim
BT57 8SS
Tel: 028 2073 2205

Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 3 No 2, March 2015