Cantillon: Politicians milking the trade mark row

The NDC trade mark can only be applied to milk farmed and processed in the Republic, and it specifically excludes product from north of the Border, even though the council itself has conceded that it makes little or no difference where in Ireland it comes from.

The NDC trade mark can only be applied to milk farmed and processed in the Republic, and it specifically excludes product from north of the Border, even though the council itself has conceded that it makes little or no difference where in Ireland it comes from.

 

Sinn Féin recently waded into the row over the National Dairy Council’s (NDC) trade mark, which some people argue is a blatant attempt to limit competition in the Republic’s liquid milk market.

The NDC trade mark can only be applied to milk farmed and processed in the Republic, and it specifically excludes product from north of the Border, even though the council itself has conceded that it makes little or no difference where in Ireland it comes from.

NDC chief executive, Zoe Kavanagh, says that the scheme was introduced in response to demand from consumers, who want to support “local” producers and processors.

It is not a guarrantee of quality or anything else, simply a promise that what the package contains comes from one or other of 26 counties.

Nonetheless, many retailers are now demanding that supplies for their private label milk must be eligible for the mark, and have committed to only stocking such products.

It has understandably annoyed Northern producers and processors, who are responsible for around one quarter of the milk sold to consumers in the Republic. As a result, the Dairy Council Northern Ireland has taken up cudgels and has complained to the EU’s competition law directorate.

More recently, West Tyrone Sinn Féin, MLA, Declan McAleer, described the situation as “frustrating” for companies based in the north but who operate on an all-Ireland basis.

He wants to see eligibility for the mark extended North. He has also raised the matter with trade minister, Arlene Foster, who told him she is pursuing it at North-south ministerial level.

Like any other political party, Sinn Féin is never afraid to jump on a bandwagon that will earn it a headline. However McAleer is more than likely articulating concerns from his own constituency, which is home to Strathroy, one of the processors caught on the “wrong side” in this row.

Businesses such as this obviously fear that they will suffer as a result of the campaign, but so will consumers, who are already overpaying for lots of necessities. Perhaps it is time politicians in the south took up the case as well.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.