Bygone Days: High demand for province’s butter from Germany’s consumers (1988)
German consumers expected Northern Ireland foodstuffs to be especially “hearty, natural and not adulterated by any kind of industrialisation”.
This was the consumer image reported by Herr Theo Van Uum, a prominent West German butter distributor, who was the guest speaker at a function hosted by the Milk Marketing Board for Northern Ireland at Balmoral Show in May 1988, reported Farming Life.
While presenting the prizes in the RUAS Butter and Cheese Competitions, Mr Van Uum picked out for special mention the Northern Ireland dairy industry’s work on product quality.
“I can now say that butter imported from Northern Ireland is at the top of the quality range and winning more friends daily.”
Mr Van Uum was a top client of NIDCO Foods Ltd, the export marketing company jointly established in 1982 by the Milk Marketing Board for Northern Ireland and Ulstermilk Ltd, a consortium of Northern Ireland butter and cheese manufacturers. Their exports, under the Greenfields label, had increased steadily over the previous four years
The butter market in West Germany was a contemporary phenomenon - “it is increasing while consumption in most other European countries is declining”.
Mr van Uum said that current West German sales of 8.1 kg per head compared to 7.9 kg per head in 1987 and 6.8 kg per head when West Germany joined the European Community.
Speaking as chairman of the butter section of the EC Eurolait Committee, he admitted that butter production in member states had decreased by an average of 15 per cent over the most recent period, and consumption was decreasing in most countries except Germany.
But, as a businessman, he added: “Our marketing strategy for Greenfields butter from Northern Ireland is as follows.
“In our advertising campaign we let the product speak for its own quality and we, as a company, ensure professional presentation to the consumer through leading supermarkets and department stores.”
During his visit to Balmoral, Mr Van Uum called at the MMB’s Dairy Centre and sampled some of the board’s own Dromona Spreadeasy butter, which had taken second place in the RUAS Northern Ireland Butter Competition, as well as third place in the open class.
Northern Ireland butter triumphed overall, with Dale Farm taking first place in the open butter competition. Fane Valley came first in the Northern Ireland class and second in the open class.
Efforts to set up a rabbit producers’ co-operative in Northern Ireland have taken a step further, reported Farming Life during this week in 1988.
Following the highly successful meeting in Cookstown some weeks previously, there have been two subsequent meetings of those prepared to serve on a committee.
A committee of 16 members has been elected under the chairmanship of Leslie Bodell, a well established rabbit producer.
In addition, two smaller committees have been appointed to examine the areas of greatest importance.
Firstly, the marketplace: the importance of securing a market which can be supplied with quality carcases on a guaranteed, continuity basis has been emphasised by Derek Livingston, regional officer of Food From Britain, which cart grant-aid such a feasibility study.
Secondly, the processing operation is being examined to investigate the current processing capacity in Northern Ireland.
Welcoming this move Ian Murray, chief executive of UAOS Ltd, promised help and secretarial services to the group, but emphasised the need for commitment, especially in relation to product and finance.
“The founding 40 members have all agreed to contribute £10 and hope all those interested in rabbit breeding, rearing, processing arid marketing will contribute a similar amount,” he said.