Potato prices in Ireland are set to rise significantly in the coming months due to shortages caused by bad weather. 

The cost of potatoes in supermarkets in Ireland is already up 17.3% compared to a year ago, RTÉ News reported on Thursday, but costs are expected to rise further due to the impact of bad weather on last year's harvest and on this year's planting season.

Figures released by Ireland's Central Statistics Office (CSO) on May 16 show that Irish farmers received 74% more for potatoes in March 2024 than they did in March 2023. 

In its weekly potato market update, the Irish Farmers Association said on May 15: "Some good planting progress has been made around the country. It is estimated that approximately 50% of plantings are now complete. There were significant delays in the southeast as wet weather continued to hamper progress.

"This is the second year in the row that planting are running very late and as a result stocks are now running extremely tight."

Sean Ryan, National Potato Chairman with the Irish Farmer's Association, told RTÉ News on Thursday that a scarcity of supply and a low base price last year are to blame for the significant jump in prices this year. 

"Scarcity of supply is reflected in the prices quoted... which have come off the back of unsustainable prices for the last 10 years," Ryan said.

He added that current prices need to be maintained in order to keep the potato industry "viable" in Ireland. 

He said the input costs for potatoes that are currently on supermarket shelves were at an all-time high when those potatoes were planted. He also acknowledged that high prices are currently being offered for potatoes but said few farmers have supplies for sale. 

"Most growers are not benefitting from price increases as a large amount of potatoes were sold straight from fields at harvest time when prices were lower." 

Ryan separately told Extra.ie: "Supermarkets are importing some potatoes from France just to keep them on the shelves, and the UK is doing likewise. However, we have no idea how long this can last."

Dan Horan, the owner of Horan's Fruit and Veg shop in Killarney, Co Kerry, recently took to social media to address the "difficult position" regarding potatoes.

"Kerr Pinks are completely finished," Horan said in a TikTok posted on May 7.

"Normally they would go on to July, but they're completely finished at the moment, can't be got until the new season comes out in August.

"Golden Wonders are finished as well. So all we're left with basically are Roosters."

Horan used his TikTok to highlight another version of potatoes, Markies.

"I could find absolutely nothing wrong with them," he said. He admitted: "I'm not pushy about potatoes, I could eat Roosters, any potato at all I'm happy, but these are very, very nice to eat and they're really a replacement for the Kerrs Pinks.

"Please go on to these until we get in a new supply of new potatoes over the next couple of weeks."

@horanshealth Due to a shortage of Kerrs Pink potatoes Dan tells us about a new variety he has eaten himself! Available in store now. #potatoes #kerry #killarney #kerrspink #horansfruitandveg #potato #shortageofpotatoes #poorcrop #ardfertpotatoes #ireland #boiledspuds ♬ original sound - Horan’s Healthstores

In April, Charlie McConalogue, Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, reiterated his commitment to safeguarding the Irish potato sector.

"I am keenly aware of the challenges posed by weather conditions in 2023 and into 2024," McConalogue said.

"In relation to last year’s crop, I understand the weather has impacted potato growers to differing extents around the country. It was estimated that less than 3.6% of the overall planted area remained in the ground at the beginning of March 2024.

"Nevertheless, I am very mindful of the impact of the prolonged exceptional weather conditions in 2024 on the potato sector. The recent wet weather caused a delay in the planting of potatoes this season. It is estimated that only 10-15% of the intended plantings of early potatoes were sown due to poor weather conditions."

McConalogue said he and his department were considering the next steps to deliver a €100/ha payment for every farmer that puts seed in the soil for the harvest year 2024.