CONSUMERS are flocking to the Love Irish Food (LIF) logo, and sales have risen for the 77 member food and drink brands it promotes, according to a poll released yesterday.
While some members say the brand would perform even better with the full support of retailers like Dunnes Stores and Tesco, others prefer to focus on the sales uplift experienced by 75% of members and the 80% consumer awareness of the logo.
Superquinn and the Musgrave Group have supported the initiative from the outset. The branding has certainly helped consumers identify food and drinks of Irish origin, rather than goods merely packed here. Some 76% of shoppers say they actively look for an Irish-made alternative.
John Noonan, sales and marketing director with Waterford-based Flahavans, said: “We feel that our association with the brand has been very positive as we source all our materials in Ireland. Our research has shown us that it is very important for our customers that they make a purchase that is of Irish origin.
“We have taken to using the brand in our radio advertising. Our porridge oats are in a different category to other products. While some categories are suffering, our sales are growing, and having the Love Irish Food logo on our packaging will continue to be of benefit to us.”
The LIF study also notes that 15 member brands are featured in Checkout Top 100 brands, with nine increasing their ranking year-on-year. Since its launch in September 2009, LIF has almost tripled its membership base from 29 to 77 Irish-manufactured food and drink brands. Next year will see an increase in LIF’s in-store promotions.
LIF programme director Sharon Colgan said: “We will be dialling up our consumer engagement through in-store activity and an integrated marketing campaign. As we move into year two, we will grow the scale of the initiative by encouraging more Irish brands to come on board.
“Membership has tripled. That is a testament to that the brand is being seen as a positive. This campaign is consumer-facing, raising the awareness of the positives of products being Irish. In terms of Tesco, they do support us. Dunnes haven’t been as engaging, but they haven’t said they’re not going to support us either, and we’ll be continuing to talk with them. But the main point is that this is a consumer initiative. Its success doesn’t depend on the retailers.”
LIF has certainly been a success for Cappoquin Chickens in Dungarvan, who attribute a sales jump of 6% or 7% directly to the initiative. However, the Waterford-based poultry firm hopes that planned new EU legislation on labelling will ensure that consumers are buying food of 100% Irish origin when they see “Made in Ireland” branding.
Cappoquin chief financial officer Tom Vaughan said: “People are often asleep when they are doing their shopping. The likes of Tesco import most of their chicken, they package them here and label them as Irish. You wouldn’t have this problem if we were like the French. They blocked Tesco from entering their market.
“I think that only the origin of the food or drink should be put on the label, not where it’s packed. Food should be sourced locally. There is total confusion about branding among consumers, and far greater clarity is needed on this issue.”
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