I’ve covered this topic a few times in the past, but I thought I’d come back to it again. I know from some of the e-mails I’ve received here and from some conversations with some friends and family, that the problem in trying to identify Irish made products is bigger than ever.
There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the media since earlier in the year where various parties are concerned that there are many products on sale in Ireland at the moment that may give consumers the impression that they’re made in Ireland when they’re actually not.
Back in January, Peter Donegan and I had a little over and back on Twitter about this very topic – Fiacla toothpaste was an example of a product where consumers would be easily misled. Fiacla, despite the name, isn’t made in Ireland any more. He published a follow up post on that which is available here.
Here’s some comments on the topic from Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail) from the Order of Business on February 4th last:
Supporting home industry and buying Irish-made goods will be an important part of the economic recovery. In recent times many people have been enquiring in shops about Irish-made goods in the belief that they are protecting and maintaining jobs at home.
However, it has come to light that the branding on some imported goods is misleading and people are buying goods they believe incorrectly to have been made in Ireland. Some examples were brought to our attention in recent reports. For example, if one eats “Old Time Irish Marmalade” in the morning one will believe it is Irish made but it is sourced in Portugal. Likewise one would be certain, having bought Siúcra sugar to put in one’s tea, that it was Irish sugar. It is sourced in Germany. One has to be particularly careful when buying salmon. There is smoked Irish salmon and Irish smoked salmon, but the latter might be imported and processed in Ireland.
These are only three examples but if this is comprehensive and there are many other such examples, we can see immediately that the economy is being undermined and that people who genuinely want to help home industry and buy Irish-made goods are being misled.
There is nothing illegal in that type of branding but we must make consumers aware it is happening. There is little point in exhorting people to buy Irish-made goods if that danger exists. I gave only three examples but I am sure there are many more. Producers in Ireland who have learned of this practice must feel very angry at present. We must protect our own and be certain that any product that goes on the shelves as Irish is Irish made.
Unfortunately, just words though. There was no meaningful debate on the issue, and no follow up on the day, nor any promised for the future (as if the Seanad could do anything anyway).
Something which is happening at the moment, which should help clarify things for Irish consumers, is the product database being developed over at ThinkIrish.ie. This database should eventually contain all Irish made products which we can refer to and make our purchases, safe in the knowledge that we’re buying Irish products.