SACRIFICING the future of the Fivemiletown cheese brands could well be a decision that will be regretted later.
In the very competitive grocery market, products and brands that can command a premium, no matter how small, and that can also build on some consumer loyalty, are increasingly rare but also increasingly valuable. At a time when Northern Ireland is leveraging its positive image and growing reputation, we need to spread these assets across every sector, especially food production.
Fivemiletown, with its 116-year-old heritage and cheesemaking skills, should be able to join forces with our growing image and reputation to carve out a niche position. These products are a valuable commodity, with skills and quality ingredients combining to deliver a competitive advantage both in reality and in branding terms. The ownership of unique brands will always be a valuable asset to producers not wanting to be totally enslaved to a commodity market like liquid milk production.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is right when saying that it would be a "great shame" to lose these brands. The sourcing and creation of product quality like this is exactly what Invest NI is promoting. Combining the quality output with the image and heritage that we increasingly have for Northern Ireland products should not be dismissed lightly.
Tony Axon is a brand expert and media director at agency Navigator Blue