TIME for butter to return to its rightful place on the table
Butter, a product that was denigrated for years, has made the front page of TIME magazine - and it's all positive.

The revival in the fortunes of butter continues, with the product featuring on the front cover of the latest edition of the influential TIME magazine.

For years butter had its name vilified by vested interests and ill-informed commentators. Much of the commentary was based on dubious scientific advice that has since been discredited.

Kerrygold butter, which has a global reputation for excellent taste, is poised to be a major beneficiary of the great product’s revival.

The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) has plans to double sales of Kerrygold butter from around 20,000t to 40,000t by 2020. Speaking at their recent annual results, IDB chairman Aaron Forde admitted that the company cannot currently meet demand for branded Kerrygold butter. In April, the IDB, which markets dairy products on behalf of Irish farmers, announced plans to build a centralised butter packing facility in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

Click here to read about the IDB's new butter plant

Kerrygold butter remains the number one butter in the German market, with an 18% market share and sales approaching €300m per year. It is also the number one imported butter in the United States, with the best distribution network across the retail trade. As American herds become more and more concentrated in industrial scale confinement units of 5,000 and more cows, the family farm and grass fed origins of Irish dairy products are an increasingly strong selling point.

The American Butter Institute reports that per capita consumption of butter in the US is at a 40-year high of 5.6lb per person.

In Britain, spreadable butter sales grew 4% in the year to November 2013. In addition to demand for spreading and table uses, butter sales have been boosted by a revival of interest in home baking. This has been driven by the success of television programmes such as The Great British Bake Off as well as consumers looking to keep food costs down by cooking from scratch at home rather than paying for prepared products. Celebrity chefs are strong advocates of butter for its taste and functionality.

Interestingly Germany’s 82m people have per capita butter consumption of 6.4kg compared to just 2.6kg here in Ireland. Margarine sales in Germany have collapsed by 40,000t in the past two years as consumers digest the emerging information on the harmful effects of trans-fats. In Britain, sales of so called yellow spreads were down by 7% in the year to November 2013.

One of the reasons behind increased butter sales is a realisation by consumers that the negative publicity around butter was grossly overdone. Margarine, which companies such as Unilver promoted heavily, has been shown to contain ingredients far more damaging to health than a dollap of butter. Trans fat, a key ingredient in margarine, is now in the process of being removed from food products on health grounds.

In Ireland, the shelves are packed with yellow fat spreads that abuse the word butter on their label despite having an average milk fat content of 0.1%. A minimum dairy fat content of 80% is required in order for a product to use the term butter. The Food Safety Authority wrote to retailers in 2013 to advise them of the need to comply with regulations.

Read our analysis of spreads on the Irish market that pretend to be butter

The farmer's daily wrap: inspections, milk price and silage 2019
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 16 February 2019.

Weather forecast

Met Éireann has said that there will be some mist or drizzle at times on Saturday morning, but most places will be dry during the day.

More general rain is forecast to develop along the west coast by evening.

It will be mild and breezy, with highs of 10°C to 12°C in southerly winds.

In the news

  • In pictures: silage 2019 kicks off in February in Kilkenny.
  • The board of Aurivo met on Friday and increased its January milk price.
  • Farmers are being driven out of business by over-zealous and unaccountable inspectors, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said.
  • Applications for the BEEP scheme, which has a funding provision of €20m, will be accepted up to and including next Friday 22 February.
  • Some 66 projects from across the country will be allocated funding of €62m under the €1bn rural regeneration and development fund.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • Good week/bad week.
  • Nathan Tuffy reports from Balla Mart.
    Fly-tippers return to burn rubbish to prevent identification
    A farmer who spoke out against illegal dumping and promised to search bags to find the culrpits spurred those responsible to return and burn out the rubbish.

    A farmer who said he would search through illegally dumped rubbish on his farm found it burnt to ashes when he returned two days later.

    Speaking on RTE’s Countrywide earlier in the year, tillage and livestock farmer Michael Doran from Co Wexford said he was targeted on two separate occasions by dumpers after Christmas.

    Bags of rubbish, mattresses, old clothes, children’s toys and household appliances were among the items dumped. At the time, Doran said it was his intention to search the bags in an effort to identify those responsible.

    I went down on the Monday and someone had put a match to it and burnt all the rubbish

    However, after the show aired on Saturday, and in a bid to prevent identification, the rubbish was reduced to a pile of ashes and burnt metal.

    “I went down on the Monday and someone had put a match to it and burnt all the rubbish,” Michael said.

    He said the farm had been preparing for calving and it had been a struggle to find the time to conduct the search.

    Men in vans

    Michael said there were a number of theories about where the rubbish had come from. Some people said they had seen adverts on various platforms from men in vans offering to take rubbish away for €25 to €30.

    “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true,” Michael warned. “That rubbish is being offloaded on properties like mine.”

    In a bid to tackle the issue, county councils are to introduce an inspection system similar to the TV licence. Homeowners will be asked to produce evidence that they are disposing of their waste legally to cut down on “men in vans”-type operations.

    Read more

    In pictures: 'It turns my stomach' – farmer victim of fly-tipping

    It’s time to get tough on illegal dumping – IFA

    Foot and mouth disease found in Australian airport seizures
    A number of products seized at Australian airports since December last year have tested positive for foot and mouth disease.

    Pork jerky, sausages and other pork products were seized by officials from the Australian Department of Agriculture in airports in the last three months.

    Two samples tested positive for foot and mouth disease, while one tested inconclusive. In total, more than 280 samples were tested for the disease to date this year.

    African Swine Fever was also detected in six of the December samples and 40 of this year’s samples, according to a report by ABC news.

    Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said that he “won't tolerate travellers risking Australian farming.”

    Cost

    It is estimated that a foot and mouth outbreak could cost Australia’s livestock industry up to $60bn.

    "[If] borders close we can't trade live animals, we can't send meat products out of the country except to other countries that have FMD,” biosecurity expert and Melbourne University professor Tom Kompas said.

    The Victoria Farmer’s Federation said that penalties need to be more severe on people who bring in biosecurity hazards.

    Read more

    Farmer Writes: we've lost 1,000 cattle to floods and cold