Tag Archives | Buy Irish

Buy Irish Resources

Buy Irish Resources ValueIreland.comOver the years I’ve gathered a series of useful links here on the ValueIreland.com website. including blog posts, articles and resources related to multiple Buy Irish campaigns. These were gathered together on my Buy Irish Resources Page.

I was reminded to tidy that “ValueIreland.com Buy Irish Page” recently when I read an article published last month on The Journal, Can’t resist the deals at the supermarket? Here’s why we should be buying local.

In response to that article, The Journal posted a poll, Do you make an effort to buy Irish products? Based on feedback I’ve had to some of my articles proposing buying Irish over the years, I was surprised to see a 71% response in favour of people buying Irish.

Lots of times, the response is that people won’t buy Irish because things are just too expensive, or aren’t of sufficient quality. I don’t believe that those factors are always the case now, given some of the amazing products of excellent quality and very good value that are made in Ireland these days.

Why I Buy Irish

As per this article here written a number of years ago, these comments from both of those articles pretty much sum up what we should be looking for when buying Irish:

Personally if a product is Irish and is on par with a non Irish product I will always pick the Irish. However if an Irish product is inferior I would never buy it just because it is Irish, I know that some people do that and that is just promoting mediocrity.

I make my decisions based on a number of factors. I do tend to opt for the Irish option unless it’s prohibitively expensive.

Buy Irish Resources on ValueIreland.com

Check out this ValueIreland.com Buy Irish Page. There are a number of interesting articles there that promote why we should be buying local. There’s also an interesting history of links showing the efforts made over the years, now defunct, in trying to encourage consumers to buy more Irish products.

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ThinkIrish.ie – an overdue follow up (part 3)

On Monday and Tuesday this week I published blogs here and here in follow up to my initial skepticism back in March upon the launch of the ThinkIrish.ie campaign.

My skepticism was due to the lack of information we were provided by the campaign on who was behind it, where the funding was coming from and what the ultimate tactics of the campaign would be. It all sounds similar to the questioning of other campaigns we’ve seen recently which haven’t actually turned out to be as they were initially portrayed in the opening press releases – see Ideas Campaign and Your Country, Your Call.

To clarify again, at no point have I argued with the aims of the campaign – though an examination of the numbers behind the prediction of +200,000 jobs if we start buying more Irish goods would be interesting – my desire here is purely for a closer examination of one of the many of the things we, as consumers, are expected to suck up automatically, and unquestioningly.

As a nation, we’re probably not used to that kind of closer examination because most of our Irish journalist types are unwilling to do it themselves. It’s much handier fill space by copying and pasting a press release rather than doing even a bit of simple investigation.

One of my questions yesterday (here) touched on something that interests me about the future of the ThinkIrish.ie campaign.

What consideration has been given to charge companies to be part of your product database – similar to Guaranteed Irish charging membership and for use of their logo?

This question, I think, will be key to this particular campaign. If they do begin to charge, then it becomes little more than the weak Guaranteed Irish scheme. But if they don’t charge, then the campaign is likely to continue to be low scale, low key. It’s a difficult bridge to cross.

I see already, though, that ThinkIrish.ie are asking that retailers make a “donation” in exchange for being allowed to use ThinkIrish.ie window stickers on their shop windows.  Suggested minimum donation sizes range from €75 to €250 depending on the size of the store – more details on that here.

In my opinion, any organisation or campaign will always lose a level of credibility and trust when one starts to charge for services or accept payments from organisations who could be seen to have a vested interest in the success or failure of your campaign. The rule of “he who pays the piper, calls the tune” will always raise it’s head when one receives money when you’re trying to promote an agenda.

The credibility of Your Country, Your Call was damaged greatly because of their reluctance to clarify who made donations to their campaign, and how much.

It’s an eternal question in such campaigns – to charge or not to charge.

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ThinkIrish.ie – an overdue follow up (part 2)

Yesterday I published an overdue right of reply from Alan Graham of ThinkIrish.ie to my original post on their campaign back in March. In response to Alans comments, I posed a few other questions about the campaign:

  1. What’s the overall budget for the campaign?
  2. How much is being funded by each of the individual contributors?
  3. Do you have a timescale for this campaign, or is it intended to continue ad infinitum?
  4. What, if any, government involvement is there – direct, state agency, quango – any arm of the government basically?
  5. What consideration has been given to charge companies to be part of your product database – similar to Guaranteed Irish charging membership and for use of their logo?
  6. You mention a board – who else apart from Jonathan Stanley is on this board?

And here were the responses received from Alan:

  1. We’d love to bank 250k to run the campaign but we’ll likely have to do it on a lot less than that. I guess it all depends on how successful we are in the coming months in building traction behind it.
    “If we build it…they will come”.
  2. As we’re still out there trying to drum up donors, I’d rather not have the level of individual donations posted. The difficulty it would create is that it either sets the bar too low or too high for prospective donors – plus we’re less likely to convince people to cough up smaller amounts if they think we’re going to put their donation against their name. (“and that’s all he gave???” or “I thought he was broke!”). What I can tell you is that the founding donor has put about 60k up for the initiative – although I suspect he’d rather that not be broadcast widely – simply no the basis that he’s a relatively low key/private individual.
  3. Timescales? I guess we’ll pack-up our tents when we feel the job is done. Much is dependent on funding but we’d like the campaign to endure and it would be good if the directory could remain on a permanent basis – I think it could be a really powerful channel for Irish business – and in particular artisan producers.
  4. No government involvement, no interest groups, no quangos – we’re so squeaky clean it’s embarrassing.
  5. Charging companies? We like the idea of a free-listing so that’s important to us and it keeps the initiative very grass-roots. In time, it’s natural we might look for ways to monetise the site and move to a self-funding model but no concrete thoughts on that at this stage. The invitation to list for free will remain whatever happens in that regard.
  6. The board is composed of Jonathan, myself, Peter Kruseman, Paul McArdle and Eamonn Freaney – you’ll find a bit more on them in our FAQs.
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ThinkIrish.ie – an overdue follow up (part 1)

Back in March, I wrote about the then new buy Irish campaign, ThinkIrish.ie. At that time, I reserved opinion on the campaign because it was lacking in the information provided on the website surrounding who was behind the campaign, where the finances for the campaign were coming from, and what direction the campaign was going to take.

Following my post, I received some clarifications and extra information from Alan Graham, campaign director for ThinkIrish.ie. In the coming days, I’m going to publish those communications.

From my own perspective, as I said originally about the campaign, while one can’t but support the key motivation behind the campaign – buying Irish with a view to creating jobs in Ireland – I’m not fully convinced.

Commenters on my original blog post had the following to say about my questioning of the campaign:

Good god but you’re a miserable fecker these days. Can you give a break on the whole if not an idea you came up with it’s c**p routine….

We’re all entitled to our opinions. My questioning comes entirely from the fact that I won’t unquestioningly regurgitate a press release to fill up space here on the website – unlike many others elsewhere, I’m going to do a little digging to find out what’s actually going on. I was one of the first to question the motives of both the IdeasCampaign and YourCountryYourCall – quite rightly and legitimately as it’s turned out on both occasions.

For now, here’s the first e-mail I received from Alan giving further details on the ThinkIrish.ie campaign:

Spotted your piece on ValueIreland and really just wanted to fill in some of the gaps for you on the background to ThinkIrish.ie

First and foremost we’re a not-for-profit. Moreover we’re in the final stages of registration as a charity and hope to conclude that early next week.

Jonathan Stanley is the man who was first to put his hand in his pocket to fund the campaign (and cajole some friends and colleagues to join the board) – he’s a serial retail entrepreneur who set up Let’s Talk Phones, Cards ‘n’ Things and more recently Homestore and More.

His motivation is entirely altruistic, a desire to do something about the state of the economy – and in particular the unemployed. More recently, he’s been joined in the “donor” camp by worky.com who have kindly given us some fresh funds BUT again they’re not a benefiting party to the campaign and nor are they part of any interest group within the manufacturing and producer groups we’re looking to promote.

We’re out there on a daily basis seeking additional funding and it’s not easy in this environment. Any comparison with Your Country Your Call is far too flattering to our budgets – we’re hugely boot-strapped and are running the campaign on a shoe-string.

Professional services (such as PR, website design etc.) are all being provided entirely PRO-BONO (Financial Dynamics and Bonfire Design have been hugely supportive). We couldn’t afford them if it wasn’t and we’re hugely thankful for that. IrishJobs.ie have offered us some free advertising (which is why you might see our banner ad on their site) as have teamer.net. Car stickers and retailer window decals we have produced were printed free by Horizon Graphics and we have the promise of some free radio ads with Communicorp – we’re fast becoming professional beggars!

This really, really is a grass-roots, consumer campaign Diarmuid and to gain traction we need the consumer on-board and qualifying manufacturers to engage with the directory.

We are asking everyone to think Irish but we’re also providing them with a product directory that will help to overcome some of the confusion with regards to what is and is not Irish made. We think consumer confidence has been massively undermined in that regard over the last number of years – hopefully we can help to address that.

The directory is a real simple (and not especially innovative) idea and it’s just surprising that Ireland hasn’t had one up till now. They have them in the US, New Zealand, the UK and Australia (to name just a few countries). We’re talking to someone about doing an iphone app for us FOC which would be cool and bring the directory to point of purchase – giving real power back to the consumer.

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More on buying Irish – cause and effect

Following up on my post yesterday about buying Irish, there was a follow up e-mail from the same reader with the following comments:

You might add a couple of other comments to the email. Since the increase in cross border shopping and the change in purchasing from Tesco to source their goods from the UK, we have seen unemployment grow by more than 50%.

We have a serious race to the bottom in Ireland and the consumer seems to think this is a good thing and they expect the retailer to constantly reduce prices.

Yet the worker in Ireland also expects to earn much better salaries than available in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. It is not possible to have it both ways.

Something has to give and appears it is through job losses, reduced quality of food products and reduced customer service.

Is this really the future we want in Ireland? I reckon if everyone in Ireland decides they are going to support Irish businesses and Irish goods we will recover from this recession as a stronger nation with a much more sustainable future.

Keep up the work and I like the new web site. It is very well presented and much easier to follow.

Again, nice to get the compliments, and while I can’t be sure of the correlation between the Tesco sourcing decision and the direct impact on Irish jobs, I’ve always maintained that we have to look to our own jobs and how much we might depend on other peoples buying habits to support us and how we should in return look at our own buying decisions and how they impact on the jobs of others in Ireland.

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ValueIreland.com Buy Irish Page

Some time ago I followed up on much of my writing about buying Irish by consolidating everything into a single page – available here. In response to that, I received this e-mail from a regular ValueIreland reader making some interesting points on the whole “buy Irish” topic:

Dear Sir,

I would like to compliment you on your new website and the basis of the content. I realise I have criticised your lack of buy Irish content but I feel you are now addressing this issue. As I have stated in the past I am a retailer with a supermarket in Abbeyleix.

I feel it is important to point out a few details I have discovered throughout the last 16 months.

Ireland has had the most competitive retail sector throughout Europe for the last decade. The main reason for the higher prices in comparison with the rest of Europe is the incredibly high running costs for a business in Ireland compared with the rest of Europe.

Ireland has a population under 5 million and yet we have a very strong independent retail sector of which accounts for 47% of the total sales within the grocery sector alone. This sector also employs over 60% the staff employed within this sector. We also have Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn.

The UK has a population of 65 million and a small independent retail sector which accounts for less than 15% of the total sales within the grocery sector. The main competitors are Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s(Morrisons are now owned by Sainsbury’s) and a couple of smaller retail chains such as Kwik Save.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda were charged with price fixing during 2008 and paid in excess of 3 million pound in fines.

In Ireland retailers do not have the luxury of fixing prices as it is such a small market and so many competitors. Each independent retailer is striving to develop their own business and provide better value than the larger multiples. For this reason alone it makes the Irish market more competitive. Unfortunately the government is unwilling to assist Irish businesses in reducing prices by constantly increasing the cost of running a business in Ireland.

I appreciate the efforts you are making to provide some insight into the reasons for supporting Irish produce and Irish businesses and for that I applaud you.

Nice to get the compliments, but also interesting (once you appreciate the angle the writer is coming from) to see the comments on the costs of doing business in Ireland.

A couple of years ago, in response to the flood of shoppers heading north, Forfas completed a report that said (paraphrasing) that while costs were higher in Ireland compared to north of the border, the cost differences didn’t make up the full price differences we were suffering from when doing our grocery shopping.

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More on Buying Irish – the Irish Question from PriceWatch

I didn’t get around to writing about this article when it was published a couple of weeks ago, but it’s definitely worth a read – The Irish Question. At the very end is something all Irish consumers should be aware of – particularly if you’re trying to support Irish businesses by buying Irish.

Conor presents a listing of items that you may think are made in Ireland, but in reality are not – worth remembering so you don’t get caught out.

JACOB’S FIG ROLLS

This company says that the fig roll has been “Ireland’s favourite for over 100 years” which may well be the case. The secret of how Jacob’s gets its figs into the rolls has, however, been lost to this country for ever and when we called last week, we were told that the biscuits were now being manufactured in Malta.

SIÚCRA

The only thing that’s Irish about this brand is the name. All the beet factories have long since been shut down so not so much as a single grain of sugar is produced in Ireland. Greencore, the company which owns the Siúcra brand imports it from elsewhere in Europe, most frequently Germany, before repacking it for our supermarket shelves.

WILLIAM SHAW’S PORK PRODUCTS

The “Olde Worlde” packaging and dewy-eyed shots of Limerick in the “rare auld times” in the advertising campaign used to promote this product could lead people to think this is made with Irish meat. Shaws is not, however, owned by a Limerick butcher called William, it’s owned by Breeo Foods, a subsidiary of co-op giant Dairygold and its bacon could just as easily have come from the Netherlands, Denmark or Scotland, or, indeed Ireland.

BOYNE VALLEY HONEY

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Boyne Valley Honey contains honey from the Boyne Valley or, at a pinch, Ireland. And there is a chance – admittedly a small one that it does – but the packaging tells us no more than it is made with both EU and non-EU honey which suggests that many of the bees involve in the process were buzzing a long, long way from the Boyne.

DONEGAL CATCH SALMON

If for some inexplicable reason you assumed that the fish caught by Donegal Catch came from Donegal you’d be wrong. This company’s salmon might have been farmed in Ireland. Or Scotland. Or Chile.

Another that comes to mind immediately is Fiacla Toothpaste – no longer made in Ireland either.

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11850 moving Irish jobs to the Philippines – boycott anyone?

Twitter was abuzz last week of news that the company behind the 11850 directory enquiries service 11850 was closing down its Irish base with the loss of 78 jobs and moving them to the Philippines.

The story was covered last Thursday in the Irish Independent – Directory firm 11850 outsources 78 jobs to Asia. According to Twitter sources, the company behind 11850 is actually American, and it seems they’re turning to their global network for cheaper resources:

“Inevitably, the economic downturn has taken its toll on consumer and business spending, resulting in a decline in call volumes as a whole to all the 118 services.

“As a result, action is required to ensure the future delivery of services, and 11850 is fortunate to be able to draw on its global resources to meet that important objective and licence commitment.

The move to the Philippines did prompt some questioning as to how the new 11850 operators might be able to handle uniquely Irish names and place names. I wonder will they do as some British companies did when outsourcing jobs to India and bring the employees to the UK for some “immersion” training, and then make them watch Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders when they went back home.

Some people on Twitter also suggested that they would begin boycotting the 11850 service because of this move costing Irish jobs.

Boycotting is good! To be honest, we’re not good in Ireland at boycotting those companies that screw consumer around – how many people are still customers of the big banks despite everything they’ve done.

But would you be out of pocket if you stopped using 11850 and used another of the 118* services?

Back in 2008 I did some research (available here – Directory Enquiries Options and Costs) on the cost of calling directory enquiry services. At that time, the 11888 option was the cheapest, while the 11890 service was the fastest and best value for money option.

The SaveAFewBob.ie crew have recently provided an updated analysis on the costs of calling directory enquiries here – Directory Enquiries – Are you paying too much?. It seems that things haven’t change much in two years with this recent research also finding that 11888 was the cheapest option.

The sting in the tail though, is that 11888 is operated by the same people who run the 11850 number. So, if you’re boycotting 11850, you should also boycott 11888.

But then using the 11890 or Eircom 11811 alternatives is going to cost you more money.

The perennial dilemma for Irish consumers – pay dearly for your principles, or sell out for the cheaper cost!

Then again, you really shouldn’t be using directory enquiries services at all these days. Have internet on your phone? Is it free? A Google search for most businesses these days provides the contact numbers in the search results before you even have to click into the website.

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Buy Irish? Make sure you check the small print

I wrote recently about some comments in the Seanad and elsewhere from people concerned that Irish consumers were sometimes being conned into buying products that they think are Ireland, but are in fact not.

Here’s a great example from Tesco towards the end of 2009. Firstly, check out this picture of a display of toilet paper – you’d be forgiven for thinking that this stuff was made in Ireland.

And you’d be wrong – check out the small print from the back of one of the products:

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