Irish potato growers raked in an additional 4m worth of sales last year by exporting surplus potatoes to the Continent to fill a gap in demand caused by droughts in Russia and Eastern Europe.

The Republic of Ireland which typically keeps all fresh potatoes for domestic consumption exported 30,000 tonnes or 6.5% of its total production in 2010 to Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European states, according to Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board. This equated to an export value of 4m to 4.5m.

Ireland had been well ­positioned to capitalise on global potato shortages in 2010 because a good growing season had produced higher than normal yields, said Lorcan Bourke, horticulture division business analyst at Bord Bia.

Despite last year's success with the surplus, he did not anticipate that exports would become a regular additional source of ­income for Irish growers.