Cheesed off- Ireland’s dairy industry

Elaine Brennan

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Pick up a packet of Kilmeaden, Charleville or Dubliner cheese in the supermarket. Chances are that you may  think that this is from Ireland. Not so. According to the label, your packaging may be produced in Northern Ireland while the milk itself may come from Great Britain. Accidental or deliberate? Research from the Irish Dairy Board gives some frightening statistics.

For example, Greencore is a co-op that owns part of Kilmeaden. Greencore  took over another conglomerate, Uniq PLC in the UK.  Kilmeaden changed plants dozens of times throughout the time of my study.

It looks like the UK leaving the EU could have  a detrimental effect on our dairy industry.Britain is one of our biggest importers. We can’t be seen to lose this connection.

So can we work out where our cheese actually comes from? The answer is that it’s complicated. A label itself may say that the cheese is produced in the UK, but this may just be the label itself, not the product. This contrasts with France, where every cheese can be tracked. Why not here?

This betrayal of ‘farm to fork’ needs to be accounted for. If not, we seem set to be at the mercy of globalisation. We need to demand reality from out products, and no better place than to start at home.

 

 

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Elaine Brennan