Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Shopkeepers in one US state face prison if they sell Kerrygold butter

Kerrygold is the premier Irish butter brand
Kerrygold is the premier Irish butter brand
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 centered around a 40-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 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 to trade the product. And because Kerrygold is made in Ireland it's not subjected to the same regulatory controls and Wisconsin is laying down the law.

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

Meanwhile, Kerrygold Dubliner is the number one specialty cheddar in the US. Ornua exports 20,000 MT of Kerrygold butter and cheese to the US each year worth $200m.

Wisconsin is well know 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.

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.

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She also questioned whether or not the rule has more to do with protecting the US dairy industry, not consumers. "I feel suspicious. Who are you trying to protect here? Are you protecting the consumers, are you protecting Wisconsin dairies?"

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

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