History of the Federation
The Irish Potato Federation was founded in 1968 and its main founder members were: Irish Potato Marketing (IPM) Ltd; Donegal Seed Growers Association; The Irish Sugar Company and the Fruit Traders’ Association which at the time represented potato merchants. The first Chairman of the Federation was Mr. Michael Bannigan, a seed potato merchant based in Co. Donegal.
The main objective of the Federation was to promote the interests of its members, to represent the industry nationally at meetings with state agencies e.g. Department of Agriculture & Food, and also to keep its members fully briefed on the progress and implications of Ireland’s impending entry into the European Economic Community (EEC).
In 1977 the potato members of the Fruit Traders Association (FTA) formed the Potato Merchants’ Association of Ireland and replaced the FTA in the Federation. At this stage, 5 years after joining the EEC, the Federation became very active in the promotion of free trade between Ireland and the rest of Europe and helped break down barriers in trading to create the single market.
Also, around this time, through the efforts of Mr. Kevin Burke, CEO of IPM, the Irish Potato Federation became a member of Europatat, the European body which represented the European wholesale potato trade. The link with Europe was further strengthened with the hosting of four Europatat annual Congress meetings in Ireland, the first in 1974 in Dublin. Its success followed with another Congress in Killarney in 1983 under the Presidency of Mr. Sam Dennigan Snr. This Congress was also deemed a great success, the Congress dinner being addressed by the then Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Austin Deasy, TD. Following the next Europatat Congress in Dublin 1992, the most recent was again held in Killarney in 2005 and was officially opened by the Minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlan, TD.
In 2008 Liam Glennon chaired the Irish International Year of the Potato Committee, when the potato was celebrated around the world as its fourth largest food crop.
In 2015 the Federation supported the “Potatoes – More than a Bit on the Side” campaign to promote potato consumption in Ireland and Great Britain. Managed and co-ordinated by Bord Bia in Ireland, the campaign kicked off on National Potato Day (2nd October) with a new website using the Federation’s original domain name of www.potato.ie and heavy usage of both print and social media. It focused advertising towards the 22-44 year age demographic where usage was lowest.
The campaign’s success was followed by a second campaign, launched in 2020 – “Potatoes, prepare to be surprised – Europe’s favourite since 1536”. This joint initiative, which is co-financed by the European Commission under the EU Promotion policy, along with Bord Bia, CNIPT, Europatat and VLAM, will run until December 2022. It will encourage the consumption of fresh potatoes among millennials via Instagram. The message of the campaign is clear: potatoes fit in a modern, healthy and sustainable lifestyle because they are tasty, versatile and have good nutritional and health benefits.