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30 Nov 2021

OPINION: Shop local this Christmas and ensure food products are Irish

OPINION: Shop local this Christmas and ensure food products are Irish

Shoppers have been urged to support local towns such as Tullamore in the lead-up to Christmas

THE Christmas shopping season kicks off in earnest this week with consumers being urged to keep as much of their spend as possible in their own local towns.

Shoppers are also being asked to make checks to ensure food products they purchase are Irish produce where possible because of its reputation for quality and the importance of supporting Irish farmers and agri-food industry workers.

Unfortunately the good intentions of consumers can be exploited through misleading labelling and unsustainable discounting on food products.

The Irish Farmers Association has called some retailers out on the use of ‘False Flag’ tricolour images and Irish sounding brand names to give the impression that food comes from Ireland and that in buying it consumers are supporting Irish farmers.

The only labels consumers should trust to signify Irish origin are the Bord Bia Quality Mark – Origin Ireland and the National Dairy Council Guarantee. 

Consumers are being misled through the use of tricolour images boasting "produced in Ireland" or "processed in Ireland" on non-Irish food.

The IFA also highlighted the practice of using fake farm and creamery brand names to mask non-Irish product and displaying Irish product next to identically packed non-Irish product.

“Playing with perceptions is designed to mislead consumers. It denies them the opportunity to make informed choices and gives the impression the retailer cares about local suppliers when in reality there is no guarantee their suppliers are being paid a fair price,” said a statement from the farmers representative body.

The issue of fair play for farmers has been in the news this week thanks to the 'Save Irish Farming' rally held in Dublin last weekend.

Farming is hugely important to the local economy and there is an onus on consumers to make every effort to ensure Irish agriculture is supported.

It is also vitally important for the future of our towns, villages and rural areas that consumers shop locally as far as is feasible in the lead up to the festive season.

We have all witnessed the decline of our rural towns over the past decade and a half caused in large part by the increased popularity of on-line shopping.

In most urban areas retailers and community leaders are waging battles to revitalise town centres with promotions in the lead-up to Christmas.

Here in Tullamore the local Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of encouraging people to shop locally and the annual Quids voucher promotion, operated in conjunction with Tullamore Credit Union, is in operation again this year.

The Christmas Lights were officially switched-on last Sunday evening at a gala celebration while the highly annual market took place on Saturday and Sunday last attracting thousands of people.

A further market will take place in O'Connor Square on Saturday, December 11 which be held in line with Covid guidelines.

The past 18 months have been a difficult period for town centre businesses throughout the country due to the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic and the resultant Government restrictions.

The advent of on-line shopping and the development of out of town shopping centres have placed our town centres under immense pressure.

The story of Tullamore is mirrored in virtually all other towns in this country and indeed throughout Europe and the developed world.

As such retailers, local business representative organisations and councils have a major role to play in promoting and revitalising our town centres.

But most importantly shoppers must continue to support retail outlets in our town centres to ensure that the fabric of community life, which we all treasure so greatly, continues to exist and hopefully thrive.

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