Before the first major weekend of the Christmas shopping season, I want to urge people to buy Irish this Christmas and to make a resolution to keep buying Irish in the New Year. I’ve launched a campaign – which you can sign up to here – to buy as high a percentage of Irish goods in my weekly grocery shop as possible.
A recent survey by Love Irish Food found that up to 80% of consumers believe a number of well-known brands, such as HB, Lyons Tea and Siucra are Irish, when in fact they are produced abroad. We import a staggering €1.5 billion worth of branded food products each year; so if we could swap just some of these products for Irish ones, the economy stands to benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions of euro.
Most people want to buy Irish-made food, so we need to come up with some innovative ideas on how to make this as easy as possible. Irish shoppers spend more than €7 billion a year on groceries, with about half of this going on branded goods and about half of these are imported. Many people will choose to buy hampers and other products for Christmas in the coming weeks; so now is the time to make the switch to Irish goods.
I’m encouraging people to pledge to buy Irish this Christmas. I will certainly be sticking to Irish brands where possible this December, and I’m aiming to ensure at least half of my shopping trolley is Irish in 2013. If you go to my website, you can check out the #IrishYourBasket campaign, and if you enter your email address I can keep you up to date on how it’s going.
I would also urge retailers to think about how they can encourage their customers to buy Irish. How about printing the percentage of Irish products purchased on the top of a receipt, directly below the name of the retailer? A competition for the town which manages to sell the most Irish products could also act as a strong incentive.
Ireland has made significant strides over the last year or so in regaining our international reputation, and our exports are thriving. However, we can also be proud of the extremely high quality Irish foodstuffs we produce. The domestic economy is still struggling to bounce back; one simple way to give it a shot in the arm would be for us all to pledge to buy more Irish produce. That way we can all play our role in supporting local producers, helping to boost growth and create jobs.
This December, keep an eye out for the Love Irish Food symbol if you want to play your part.