Potato growers want spuds on our plates every night as they work to get rid of glut.
A push by potato growers to get WA spuds back on dinner plates every day to help ease a massive glut began last night with the start of a prime-time television advertising campaign named Todatoes.
The campaign, to include digital and billboard advertising, encourages people to eat more potatoes, more often, by offering recipes and promoting their nutritional benefits.
WA Potato Growers Association chief executive Simon Moltoni said the campaign came at a critical time for local farmers as they adjusted to a newly deregulated market and the loss of access to interstate markets after the detection in WA in February of an exotic pest called the tomato potato psyllid.
The glut means WA farmers are now getting less for their potatoes than the cost of producing them.
Mr Moltoni said the farmgate price received by farmers averaged $380 to $400 a tonne, but the cost of production was from $400 to $500 a tonne, varying according to cost structures, yield and quality.
The losses have been the final straw for Busselton farmer Joe Mercuri, who recently gave up on potato growing after nearly three decades. The PGA hopes the campaign will stop others going the same way.
“Unfortunately, this campaign is unlikely to provide a quick fix for growers currently suffering hardship,” Mr Moltoni said.
“It should have more of a longer- term benefit.”
He said he hopes the Todatoes campaign will have a similar effect to the Fresh Potatoes promotion driven by the now-defunct Potato Marketing Corporation between 2012 and last year.
That campaign increased the number of WA households buying potatoes each week by 10 per cent in its first six months. The household penetration rate has since declined by six percentage points.
Mr Moltoni would not comment about the campaign’s cost.
It is funded by part of a $2 million industry adjustment package set up after deregulation, matched by growers through a fee-for-service on produce.
Over the past five years, the national consumption of potatoes had fallen 14 per cent, and declined 30 per cent in the past 15 years, Mr Moltoni said.
WA currently produces between 55,000 and 60,000 tonnes of potatoes annually.