Opinion

Fancy some top-quality Irish dairy produce? Don’t go to an NDC event!

A couple of years ago I went to an National Dairy Council event.It was on in a prominent hotel in Dublin and I was shocked to find that the only food on offer on the day was deep fried – chicken wings, spring rolls, cocktail sausages etc.

There wasn’t a single dairy item – cheese, yogurt, smoothies etc to be had. I pointed it out to the National Dairy Council afterwards that I thought it was a pretty poor show for an organisation whose role is to promote the dairy industry. Its response was to blame the hotel – they had to work within the restrictions of the hotel and couldn’t bring in their own food etc.

The National Dairy Council describes its role as driving a sustainable dairy industry in Ireland and in educating consumers on the role of dairy in their lifestyles.

Yesterday, I went to visit the top dairy farm in the country – the NDC and Kerrygold Milk Quality Award winner in 2014 – the Dwan family who farm just outside Thurles.

Before the farm walk, the NDC held a seminar where speakers talked about sustainability, attention to detail and the X factor that dairy farmers must display, while Ornua spoke about how it shares the unique taste of Irish dairy around the world, while showing slides of the premium products it sells worldwide.

Yet, at the back of the room actions spoke louder than words and the food on offer was an insult to Irish dairy farmers.

White bread sandwiches and white bread wraps scream neither ‘dairy’ nor ‘healthy’ – although I did see some grated cheddar poking out of one sandwich. To top it all off the desert option was cake, cake and more cake.

Is that a true reflection of the top class dairy produce dairy farmers in Ireland? The National Dairy Council may have wanted to showcase the produce from the winning farm’s co-op only – Thurles co-op – but again there was nothing to show this, bar the only nod towards dairy some rather sad looking bottles of milk.

Where were the incredible dairy options that co-ops in the country have spent millions on developing and promoting?

It particularly annoys me when I see food agencies not at the forefront of promoting their own products and, in this case, healthy eating at every opportunity.

It seems the hassle of working with a hotel to ensure it puts you in the best light is too much to bother with.

If the National Dairy Council won’t be a champion of its members products, then it’s letting down every dairy farmer in the country by failing to communicate a very simple message: Irish dairy farmers and processors produce great products and we’re proud to showcase them.

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