Fruit and vegetable producers are calling for additional supports to prevent shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables on our supermarket shelves and to secure Ireland’s market, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Regina Doherty said: “If you’ve been to any Irish supermarket recently, you’ll know that fresh produce is in short supply.
“Shoppers in the UK are facing empty supermarket shelves. Three of the largest British supermarket chains have introduced rations on produce including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, in an attempt to combat the shortages.
“This problem is not unique to our neighbours. If we don’t smarten up and soon, Ireland could easily go the same way.
Senator Doherty cautioned: “There is not a single commercial grower of peppers active in this country; we had one up until recently, but they have pulled out. It’s just not viable for them anymore.
“Energy costs are hitting growers hard, and as a result of the pressures brought about by Putin’s war in Ukraine, the Horticulture Exceptional Payment Scheme (HEPS) was introduced last year as a support measure provided in the form of a once-off payment to certain growers. However, while it is a welcome step, it doesn’t go far enough.
“More needs to be done to support our horticultural growers in the sectors most at risk: commercial growers of mushrooms, field vegetables, apples and high-wire crops. I’m aware of a number of supports for producer organisations and a capital investment scheme for horticulture that is helpful to the sector, but growers are asking for additional supports in light of this current extreme pressure, which is now very evident to consumers too.
“At this stage, it is quite literally a matter of survival. Just ask pepper growers.”