Dairy products are still considered a popular staple in the diet amongst Irish people with 66% of consumers believing that their meals would be less enjoyable without them, according to new research from the European Milk Forum.

A survey of 1,500 adults found that 92% of Irish consumers include dairy products in their daily diet, with milk, cheese and yoghurt the most prominent options for mealtimes in households around the country.

Other findings show that nutrition and taste are key considerations during purchasing with 77% of consumers regarding dairy as a healthy addition to their diet, and 66% valuing its taste.

Furthermore, 48% of consumers surveyed stated that they felt Irish dairy products are fresh and not highly processed.

The research also found a significant understanding of the role the dairy sector plays within the Irish economy as 69% of people that took part regarded the industry as a vital part of rural communities and local economies.

Speaking at a recent visit to Connelly’s dairy farm in Tuam, Co. Galway, Zoe Kavanagh, spokesperson for the European Milk Forum in Ireland and CEO of the National Dairy Council (NDC), welcomed the findings.

“Dairy clearly continues to be a treasured part of the diets of Irish consumers and [they] recognise the taste, quality and flavour provided by these products.

“Further to this, the findings demonstrate the esteem in which consumers hold our indigenous dairy industry.

“Farmers such as the Connelly family in Tuam are an excellent example of best-in-class food producers producing nutritious locally produced dairy, on a grass-based system, supplying top quality dairy products,” she said.

Kavanagh added that while the findings were positive overall, consumers remain conscious of the climate crisis and want to see the dairy industry take more steps towards sustainability.

“The research reflects an awareness by consumers of the work undertaken so far and the efforts underway to ensure all dairy farmers are reaching and maintaining a high standard of environmental sustainability. 

“A strong majority of Irish consumers, 89%, consider dairy part of a sustainable diet, showing that the industry has demonstrated to consumers that dairy farmers are serious and committed to farming sustainably.

“The dairy industry needs the continuing trust and understanding of consumers as it continues to respond to the challenges that lie ahead,” she concluded.

The survey was carried out as part of the of the milk forum’s ‘Dairy in a Healthy and Sustainable European Food System’ campaign, which also undertook similar research in Northern Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and France.