Written Answers. - Potato Chip Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

461 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the way in which caterers source potatoes for the chip industry; the extent, if any, to which potatoes are imported for this purpose; if his Department has identified a variety of potatoes suitable for such use; the reason that imports in this regard are required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2247/99]

The catering industry requires potatoes for chipping purposes to have particular characteristics which ensure a quality end product acceptable to consumers. Not all potatoes are suitable for producing potato chips of an acceptable quality. Caterers predominantly use potatoes of the variety Maris Piper and source their requirements through specialist suppliers of peeled potatoes and through potato merchants. There is no current widespread willingness among our producers to grow the variety Maris Piper and consequently the bulk of supplies – approximately 90 per cent – to the catering trade for the production of potato chips has to be imported.