Jim Power, the economist fronting the campaign, admits it is a commercial tactic by a food industry under pressure. “We are seeing moves from certain retailers about sourcing less product in Ireland. Exchange-rate movements, particularly against sterling, have been adverse for the last two years,” he says. “Disposable income is under pressure and consumer spending is down.
“There are economic advantages to buying Irish. You are preserving jobs and contributing to the exchequer finances of this country. People may talk about an all-Ireland economy, but it is not that. Whats spent in the north stays there. People need to realise the economic implications of what they are doing.”
Irish British chickens get a mention..
To qualify for a Love Irish Food logo, 80% of a products manufacturing must be done in Ireland and companies must use local ingredients “where possible”. Does this proviso allow some products to slip through a loophole?
“No,” says Power. “If the ingredients are available and the company doesnt use them, the label will not be included.”
While he stresses that Love Irish Food is not a lobbying organisation, Power adds that stricter rules on labelling are needed. “I went to Tesco last Saturday and saw chicken with Irish flags on it, but its source was Northern Ireland,” he says. “The whole packaging regime here is mad. You can bring in a chicken from Thailand, package it, and suddenly its an Irish chicken.”
And that’s without mentioning those turkeys..