The global impact of the Kerrygold brand today will be seen as one of the greatest legacies of the business career of Tony O’Reilly, who died over the weekend, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman has said.

“It’s over 60 years ago – long before we joined the EEC – that Tony O’Reilly recognised that creating an Irish brand in a commodity market would help to bring greater returns to farmers and reward them for the quality product they were making,” he said.

Francie Gorman said the businessman went on to have many successes, but the vision he showed as head of Bord Bainne, which was the forerunner to Ornua, would be among his enduring achievements.

Global brand

Kerrygold is now a global brand worth €1bn. It is the best-selling butter brand in Germany and is the second-most popular in the US market.

“The importance of reflecting the work and investment of farmers in terms of what they get paid has not diminished.

"If anything, the leadership shown by Tony O’Reilly in the early 1960s would suggest he was way ahead of his time. Irish agriculture - and the dairy sector in particular - has reason to acknowledge his contribution,” he concluded.