As a proud Lakeland supplier, I feel like I should be pleased to see a report in the Irish Farmers Journal recently of Lakeland ‘produced’ butter for sale on supermarket shelves in the USA under the Vital Foods brand.

As someone who was critical in the past when Tirlán went head-to-head with the wonderful Kerrygold brand of butter in that market, I must be consistent.

Of course I want to be proven wrong, and that this is in my best interests as a Lakeland supplier, but I want to hear the strategic thinking behind this.

When we see both of these co-ops are members of Ornua, who market under the Kerrygold brand, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind this approach.

Of course I want to see more Irish butter command a premium price, but the question must be asked ‘Is this the best way to market Irish butter?’

The Irish dairy industry has condensed into a small number of reasonably sized entities, but in global terms, these are small players.

There must be ways for us to better develop a ‘co-opetition’ strategy on global markets. Irish butter under the Kerrygold brand is a great success story.

If competing with each other grows the consumption of Irish butter or, better still, grows the return to Irish farmers in total, then I will eat my words – with a good lump of butter on top!