The makers of Kerrygold are trying to get the state of Wisconsin to lift a ban on its butter.
The rich, creamy taste makes Kerrygold hugely popular across the United States but it’s been banned in Wisconsin because of an obscure state law dating back to the 1970s.
Consumers have reacted angrily describing the ban as stupid and unnecessary. Jean Smith told Wisconsin TV news station TMJ4 she loves Kerrygold butter and likes to add it to her tea in the morning instead of eating breakfast. She says it tastes much better than any other butter because the cows that produce the milk eat only grass rather than other food substances that are fed to Wisconsin cattle.
She said: “You can do a taste test, you have to do a taste test and see I guess, but it definitely has a different richer taste than the other butter does.”
Since the ban was introduced, Jean has taken a 500 mile round trip to Nebraska to stock up on Kerrygold, which is available throughout the rest of the United States.
TMJ4 explained that the reason for the ban is that Kerrygold fails to comply with grading requirements.
It said: “The issue here is an obscure state law from the 1970s that requires all butter sold in Wisconsin to be tested by a panel of experts and issued a letter grade for quality.
As a butter made in Ireland, Kerrygold is not graded in the U.S.
“State statute spends pages detailing the steps needed to sell butter, and the 32 different quality points on which it needs to be judged.
“Violating the butter law can result in fines upward of $1,000, or jail terms of six months.”
Jean Smith thinks that’s a lot of unnecessary red tape and is dubious about the purpose of the ban. “I feel suspicious. Who are you really trying to protect here? Are you protecting the consumers, are you protecting Wisconsin dairies?”
The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association has so far declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Kerrygold are looking for a way around the impasse. Lisa Miller is the marketing director for Ornua North America, the Irish dairy co-operative that markets Kerrygold butter in the U.S.
She said the company didn’t know that selling Kerrygold in Wisconsin was illegal until the state began contacting distributors about the ban. “Our process of inspecting is a little bit different from the process here, the standards are universally very high.
“So we’re working on some options that will meet their requirements for the way the inspection process has to work.”
If you haven’t seen it already, here is the heartwarming US advert for Kerrygold butter.