Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 30 April 2017

US shopkeepers may face jail if they sell Kerrygold

One disgruntled customer said she is now travelling to Nebraska to buy Kerrygold butter and haul it home in cooler bags. Stock Image
One disgruntled customer said she is now travelling to Nebraska to buy Kerrygold butter and haul it home in cooler bags. Stock Image
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A ban by the US state of Wisconsin on Kerrygold butter has raised the ire of consumers there and it seems it's centred around a 47-year-old state law.

Kerrygold butter has become a staple for many Americans who follow the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) and Paleo/Caveman diets, which promote the use of grass-fed butter as the best form of fat. Many US consumers use Kerrygold butter in coffee instead of milk.

Kerrygold is the number one imported butter and the number three overall butter brand in the US.

However, a law from 1970 in the state means that all butter which is intended for commercial use must be put before a panel of experts and issued a letter grade for quality.

Because Kerrygold is made in Ireland it is not subjected to the same regulatory controls and Wisconsin is laying down the law.

Violating the butter law can result in fines upward of $1,000 (€950), or jail terms of six months.

Ornua, which owns the Kerrygold brand, has strong links in Wisconsin since it bought the Wisconsin-based Thiel Cheese and Ingredients.

It's understood that the company had no idea selling Kerrygold in Wisconsin was illegal until the state began contacting distributors about the law.

A spokesperson for Ornua said that under Wisconsin legislation, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark.

"This effectively excludes Kerrygold butter from being sold in Wisconsin because Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland," she said.

"We are currently working with the Wisconsin authorities on a solution which will enable consumers throughout the state to enjoy the great taste of Kerrygold butter."

Wisconsin is well known for its dairy production and the industry has significant political pull.

However, the move is not being welcomed by consumers looking for their grass-fed butter hit.

Meanwhile, Kerrygold Dubliner is the number one specialty cheddar in the US.

Ornua exports 20,000 metric tonnes of Kerrygold butter and cheese to the US each year worth $200m (€190m).

One disgruntled customer, Jean Smith, told the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) that she is now travelling to Nebraska to buy Kerrygold butter and haul it home in cooler bags.

She also questioned whether or not the rule has more to do with protecting the US dairy industry rather than consumers.

"I feel suspicious. Who are you trying to protect here? Are you protecting the consumers, are you protecting Wisconsin dairies?" she said.

According to the FEE shopkeepers who don't remove Kerrygold from their shelves face fines and possible jail time.

Irish Independent