Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman has called on all players in the food chain to engage with their suppliers of Irish fruit and vegetables to ensure they can remain financially viable and overcome the current crisis caused by the adverse wet weather conditions.

“Growers of fruit and field vegetables in particular are under intense pressure,” he said.

“Fieldwork has remained at a standstill in most parts of the country and this spring has seen below average sunlight levels delaying glass house and polytunnel production by several weeks,” he added.

IFA fruit and vegetable chair, Niall McCormack said 2024 has started on the worst possible weather footing, with delays in planting all field vegetables and potatoes, meaning growers have less crops to sell to their customers in the peak summer and autumn harvest months and less income as a result.

“Many growers are not in financial position to survive the year ahead unless their end customers step up and put in financial supports to ensure they can remain in business,” he said.

He is calling on all retailers to put in place a 2024 weather supplementary payment on every punnet of fruit, kilo of carrots, bag of potatoes and head of lettuce that is supplied in 2024.

Low margins

“We have seen growers number decline every year due to the low margins of growing horticulture food crops and without immediate support, the sector could decline beyond saving this year. This call for assistance for fruit and vegetable growers is directly firstly to the big five retailers,” he said.

Ireland's grocery retail market is dominated by five players, Dunnes Stores, Tesco, SuperValu, Lidl and Aldi who between them control 92.2% of the total grocery market.