The Irish glasshouse sector needs to enable the building of capability in the protected crops sector, adding value through premiumisation and increasing the domestic market share underpinned by sustainability and innovation.
These are just some of the recommendations by a new KPMG report, Opportunities for the Irish Horticulture Sector, produced for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
The report said one of the main priority areas for the glasshouse horticulture in Ireland is to expand volumes from existing producers to grow more as well as devise ways to make the sector more appealing. It said the sector should create incentives through increased funding for the sector as well as create NPD and innovation programmes for value-added products.
It also suggests work needs to be done to increase promotion of the benefits of Irish grown crops to establish the value around an `Irish Tomato’ and expand that to other crops such as cucumbers and salad leaves etc.
The report said the sector should also identify alternative uses to find alternative buyers and routes to market, consider trends in crop types in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and evaluate international trends in snack pack offerings and varieties across the salad crop market.
In terms of energy, the report said actions to be taken should include developing a business case for carbon credits as well as working with government to identify alternative energy sources.
The report, launched by Minister Hackett at a webinar attended by stakeholders in the sector, provides a comprehensive overview of the state of play in the horticulture industry in Ireland.
Commenting on the report Agriculture Minister Pippa Hackett said: “I commissioned this report to identify the challenges and the opportunities for the Horticulture sector. It provides significant data and analysis which will inform a strategy for change to enable each sector within this industry to fulfil its true potential. Horticulture is a vital part of the Irish economy and we know consumers want Irish produce.”
While each sub-sector presents its own challenges and opportunities, there are key cross-cutting factors that are applicable to the overall sector. The report highlights the actions that can help to address challenges faced as well as developing opportunities for the sector.