€700k to get consumers to say ‘cheese please’

Funding of over €700,000 allocated by the European Commission to promote cheese consumption in Ireland.

The National Dairy Council (NDC) has welcomed the announcement, which will see funding spread over a three year campaign.

The EU Cheese Programme will be co-funded by the dairy industry, generating a total budget of €4,980,000 in four participating countries over three years starting in 2015, with €720,328 allocated to promoting cheese in the Republic of Ireland during that period.

Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council, says that the programme creates an opportunity to showcase how delicious and versatile cheese can be as well as the nutritional role it can play as part of a balanced diet. “Cheese can be appropriate for almost any consumption occasion as it can be made available in a variety of forms, yet Irish consumers typically use cheese in a narrow range of occasions,” she said.

The proposal to the EU was co-ordinated through the (European Milk Forum) EMF on behalf of the organisations responsible for promoting dairy products in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark and France, with the Irish submission supported by the NDC in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.

The aim of the single campaign is to give consumers a clear understanding of the role cheese can play in the everyday diet identifying different occasions to eat cheese, different ways in which cheese can be used at mealtimes and new ways to use cheese.

National surveys demonstrate the contribution of cheese to calcium intake in the Irish diet:  Cheeses contributed 9% of calcium intake among Irish adults (18-64 years).  Also cheeses contributed 9% and 8% to the mean daily intake of calcium in the diet of Irish teenage girls and boys (13-17 years) respectively. Corresponding figures for Irish children (5-12 years) were 6% and 6%3.  In addition to calcium, cheese offers a range of other nutrients.