Lakeland Dairies has joined other major Irish co-ops, such as Tirlán and Dairygold, in competing with Ornua in the key US dairy market.

Lakeland’s entry into the market is not a direct one, rather it is supplying “90% grass-fed” butter to Vital Farms, a supplier of “ethical” food to US consumers under the sales tag “keeping it bullsh*t free”.

With revenue of $471m (€441m) and a stock market valuation of more than €1bn, Vital Farms is not a small player in the US premium consumer space.

According to its annual report published this week, the company starting importing butter from a supplier in Ireland in late 2023.

That report also stated: “We compete with… large international food companies such as Ornua Co-operative Limited (Kerrygold).”

When contacted for comment, Lakeland said: “We are delighted to work with our growing global network of customers as part of our clear commitment to deliver world-class dairy products to consumers around the globe. Lakeland Dairies uses the highest-quality milk from our farm families in Northern Ireland and/or the Republic of Ireland for the products supplied to these customers.”

While there is nothing stopping Lakeland from competing with Ornua in the US market, Vital Farms seems to be relying on the halo effect from Kerrygold, with its own marketing of their butter featuring pictures from the farm of one the winners of Lakeland’s dairy supplier of the year for 2023.