The IFA’s national liquid milk committee chairman, Teddy Cashman, said the NDC mark was the only fully audited labelling scheme in place which guaranteed consumers that the milk bearing it was both produced and processed in Ireland, supporting local jobs and the local economy.
The IFA found huge variations in the levels of locally sourced milk for sale on random countrywide visits to the seven main multiple retailers. Tesco and SuperValu fared best, with NDC-marked milk in all pack sizes of branded or private label non-speciality milk. The IFA found Marks && Spencer carried non NDC-marked product.
Mr Cashman said: “These retailers can all do better to support Irish jobs and the local economy, and give their consumers a choice to do the same at all price points.
“Many retailers feature ‘Irish’ labels and logos of their own making on their own private label milk.
“However, consumers should be aware that the NDC mark is the only actually audited scheme which guarantees them that by choosing the milk bearing the mark, they are supporting Irish jobs on farms, in milk processing, and in the local economy generally.”
The IFA said it was disappointed by Dunnes Stores, which does not offer consumers NDC-marked Irish milk under its private label. Aldi’s record is mixed, said the IFA — the store is increasing its NDC-marked offering in all pack sizes, but confusingly not in every store.
Lidl only offer NDC- marked one-litre packs. Superquinn, while offering NDC-marked choice for branded milk, only offers one-litre private label packs bearing the NDC guarantee. Marks & Spencer, Aldi, and Lidl do not carry branded milk in their stores, the IFA said.
Conducted during November and December, this IFA survey will be carried out on a quarterly basis to monitor any changes in the marketplace and inform consumers.
Mr Cashman added: “Irish milk producers provide Irish consumers with tremendous value and quality, though the price they currently receive for their milk does not cover their costs of production.
“Studies have shown that Irish consumers are keen to support Irish jobs in their buying choices. Irish milk bearing the NDC mark offers absolute value for money compared with alternative options,” Mr Cashman said.
Meanwhile, the National Dairy Council has also launched promotional campaigns with retailers, including coffee group Starbucks and the Kylemore restaurant chain, promoting the fact that they use Irish-sourced dairy products in their outlets.
In the case of Kylemore, Kylemore Services Group (KSG) accounts for approximately 1m litres of milk annually across its 105 locations nationwide.
This milk carries the NDC guarantee, which assures consumers that milk and cream in Kylemore outlets has been both farmed and processed locally.
Kylemore has experienced a 50% growth in turnover in the last two years and currently employs 950 staff who prepare and serve fresh food to more than 10m customers annually.
Starbucks outlets use about 1.2m litres of locally-sourced milk annually in its 27 coffee shops nationwide. Starbucks already employs approximately 500 staff in outlets throughout the greater Dublin area and extending into surrounding counties such as Kildare.
NDC chief executive Zoe Kavanagh said: “The economic crisis has stimulated a heightened sense of awareness about the need to support local produce as a way of helping our economic recovery.
“Recent attitudinal research shows that consumers have become very engaged in the jobs debate in the current climate with 73% of consumers saying that buying Irish food is essential if our economy is to recover; whilst 82% of consumers believe that buying Irish food supports the local community.”
The NDC guarantee directly supports the jobs of 2,483 people locally in dairies and 2,193 dairy farmers involved in farming ‘table’ milk.
However the actual economic value is much higher, as the economic multiplier effect associated with the agri-food sector means consumers who choose milk and cream with the NDC mark are in fact supporting 12,415 jobs.