Making Waves in China
Written by Tara Mulvany
With 2015 and the end of milk quotas only around the corner, there’s unprecedented optimism within the Irish dairy industry. The size of the opportunity for exporting our milk, in a variety of forms, to China, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is mind blowing.
China, in particular has an ambitious, increasingly affluent middle class who, due to the one child policy, dote on their small families and are looking to improve their diets, both in terms of nutrition and food security.
But how does a small country like Ireland, never heard of in many parts of China, even begin to market and promote itself and its products in a country that has a population of over 1.3 billion?
The effort is massive. It requires commitment, investment, a change of pace and a shift in mindset at every level in the sector from the producer, to the dairy, to the Irish Dairy Board, to the Minister and back again. Much progress is already been made and most players in the sector are already champing at the bit.
A key player is Bord Bia who is now more involved in the dairy scene than ever before. Their Origin Green programme aims to promote Ireland as a country supremely suited to sustainability. Our climate, lush, green countryside and even our much derided rainfall are being used to create and market a story of a small country on the edge of Europe that can feed the world with its natural, trustworthy, quality and sustainable produce.
What’s remarkable is that it’s not just a slogan. We have the agricultural checks and processes to back it up. Our animal traceability is second to none, our cows are uniquely fed outdoors in the fresh air for most of the year and we’re already well on target to increase our milk output by at least 50% by 2020.
Green Ireland is now a remarkably valuable brand that needs to be carefully managed and protected. It mightn’t save the country, but if we get it right, it could create a sizeable economic spin-off on the home market and that’s exactly what we need right now.