The price of the humble Irish potato has rocketed by 85 per cent – thanks to a dreadful winter.
As the summer finally threatens to arrive, Irish consumers are paying a hefty price for the unseasonal cold.
The Irish Independent reports that families have been hit with a 10pc hike in the cost of locally produced food because of the cold winter and delayed spring.
And the potato has suffered the most with Central Statistic Office figures showing that a 10kg bag of spuds has risen in price from €5.06 to €9.34 – or by 85 percent.
The paper says further hikes are likely to follow thanks to the bitterly cold start to the year and the subsequent late spring.
Home-grown crops are taking longer to ripen and come to market which will lead to higher prices.
The report adds that beekeepers have also warned there is a real threat to honey supplies this year due to a combination of disease and bad weather.
One beekeeper in Westmeath has even warned he does not expect to produce any honey this year as his bees have been unable to mate, resulting in hives being decimated and less honey being produced.
The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations, which has 2,500 members, told the paper that the problem was weather related.
Midlands branch secretary Jim Donohoe said: “We’ve had bad summers before, but because of the wind, rain and lack of sunshine, we’ve had serious problems with colonies wanting to swarm, but the queens being unable to mate with drones which refused to fly because there wasn’t calm conditions.
“This year, we had a delayed winter where bees couldn’t fly. The flowers were delayed coming out, and that crucial period meant bees died from old age. All of this combines to about 50pc of colonies being lost. If we don’t get milder weather, the losses will be closer to 75pc.
“The possibility for re-building is almost zero for this year.”
The report states that the losses have had knock-on implications for the wider agricultural sector, as bees play a critical role in pollinating many crops.
Last year’s poor summer, coupled with a long winter in which temperatures plummeted to the lowest on record in March, have delayed the growing seasons.
CSO figures show the highest increases have been in potatoes (up 85 percent), broccoli (20 percent), brown flour (17 percent), topside or rib roast beef (14 percent) and a kilogramme of pork sausages (13 percent).
Rises have also been recorded for white flour, chicken, tomatoes, carrots, pork, ham, eggs and mushrooms.
A spokesman for the Irish Farmers’ Association warned: “There’s price volatility, and there will be into the future. The big story for us this year is going to be the extra cost of producing food because of the extraordinary weather and the poor harvest last year.
“There is a very severe cost pressure on producers because they have to buy feed in the middle of May and the repercussions will be felt for some time to come.”
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