According to the Irish Farmer's Association, the season began well this year with excellent light levels reported over the winter months and early spring, this however, deteriorated in April and early May. During these months poor light levels were experienced and temperatures were below average which affected both production and consumption levels. However, the warm weather of recent weeks has helped to balance the situation.
The season started on time with good demand from retailers but the imported lines of tomatoes continue to cause concern particularly for tomato growers when these foreign lines are heavily discounted during promotions. On a positive note, all retailers are now stocking Irish tomatoes and some have moved from plastic to cardboard packaging however growers cannot be expected to carry the extra costs associated with the change in packaging.
Once again sourcing labour and accommodation for workers is a major concern. Some workers have applied for non-EEA work permits this season in an effort to alleviate the problem and to date there have been 180 permits issued across all horticulture, with the mushroom sector obtaining the lion’s share of those issued.
The main lettuce crop had lower yields and it was lighter due to colder weather. Iceberg lettuce season was two weeks earlier than last year with excellent demand for the crop as it becomes available.
The fusarium issue in lettuce, which has already caused one grower to leave the sector continues to be a major issue.
The reduction in the critical mass of growers in the salad sector remains a serious issue and the continued reductions in retail prices remains a problem.
Read the full report here.