Opinion

Here’s why the sugar tax is a good news story for the dairy sector

The fact that milk-based drinks have been granted an exemption from the new ‘sugar tax’ on nutritional grounds is a fantastic news story for the Irish dairy industry.

In a very straightforward manner, it gives the National Dairy Council (NDC) an opportunity to profile milk in a way that it has never had up to this point.

In reality, those behind the introduction of the sugar tax have done all the hard work for the NDC. It’s simply a case now of getting on with the job of reaping the rewards.

Milk is nature’s wonder. It ticks every nutritional box conceivable for people of all ages.  

And that’s only the beginning of the story. Milk is the most natural drink that any consumer can enjoy. It is also backed up by a traceability system that is fool-proof, guaranteed from farm to glass.

The provenance of Irish milk is such that it stands out above all its competitors. The fact that it is produced by cows, enjoying the freedom of Ireland’s green pastures is a tremendous story in its own right and should give local consumers more confidence in this unique source of nutrition.

There are so many hooks to hang an immensely persuasive marketing campaign around the benefits of milk on.

All it takes is for one of these to truly resonate with the general public.

Who would have thought that the fortunes of butter could be turned around in the eyes of international consumers?

Up to three years ago, it was pilloried as one of the most unhealthy foods that anyone could eat. Now it is regarded as one of the most natural foods that we can include in our diet.

The subsequent rise in butter prices was almost solely responsible for getting the dairy industry out of the international slump which it had endured during 2014/15.

The butter story has helped buoy the prospects for dairy farmers. But it’s time that liquid milk enjoyed its day in the sun. In my opinion, the introduction of the sugar tax represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make this a reality.

Consumers around the world are immensely interested in what they eat and where their food comes from. The TV schedules are packed with cookery and farming programmes at the present time.

The potential impact of the sugar tax will also be a key talking point across the media over the coming months. Given this backdrop, it is to be hoped that the dairy industry will be given the opportunity to tell the real story of milk.