Part of a profile of the Irish potato industry – ahead of the World Potato Congress in Dublin, Ireland prepared by Jaap Delleman of Potato World Magazine (Aardappelwereld).
Located in the rural landscape of North County Dublin, the heart of Irish horticultural production, Sam Dennigan and Company UC was founded in 1976 by Samuel Laurence Dennigan, who began trading seed and ware potatoes. The company is owned and managed by two brothers Joe and Sam Dennigan, and has grown into a global fresh produce company employing over 660 people.
The company supplies the entire range of fresh products to national and international customers in the wholesale, retail and catering sectors. It operates its own transport fleet on the island of Ireland. As far as potatoes are concerned, the company is supplied by around 50 producers mainly from the surrounding hinterland, many of whom started supplying the company when it was founded in 1976.
The company has its own full-time professional agronomist who works closely with these growers in monitoring the harvest during the growing season, with the goal of collaborating in producing the highest quality crop.
At harvest time, the crop is loaded into one-ton crates and when delivered to the company’s depot in Oldtown, each load is quality checked, labeled and selected for cold storage. long term or for short term use.
During a tour of the company’s headquarters in Oldtown, Joe Dennigan demonstrated three separate packaging departments – for salad potatoes, drybrushing and washable potatoes.
He explains that the Rooster variety has the largest main crop market share in Ireland at 60-65%. This is largely due to Irish consumer preference for high dry matter varieties at levels of 21-22%. This preference is also reflected in other main varieties sold on the Irish market – Kerr’s Pink, Record, Golden Winder, Maris Piper and Cultra.
For early potatoes, the two most popular varieties grown in Ireland would be Premiere and British Queen. Before the arrival of the Irish early vegetables, after Easter, there is a small demand for new season Mediterranean potatoes – mainly from Cyprus and southern Italy.
For the fresh fry trade, Maris Piper and Markies would be the main varieties. In the case of salad or baby potatoes, there is a wide range marketed: Annabelle, Baby Lou, Caesar, Emily, Gemson, Jazzy, Marilyn and Regina. For organic potatoes, the main varieties would be Agris, Santé, Sarpo Miro and Valor.
In partnership with a major European seed potato company, it is hoped to introduce a new variety, Bellarua, to the Irish market. Dennigan explained that this red-skinned variety has received very favorable feedback in market testing and has excellent storability.