As the cold nights set in, consumers across the country will soon start stocking up on winter fuel essentials, Donna Ahern reports.
Even though we have all been spending more time at home over the past year, value sales for ignition products remained more or less flat, with a value percentage drop of just 0.5% for the latest 52 weeks ending 15 August.
That is according to research conducted by NielsenIQ on behalf of Checkout. We are also seeing this decline accelerate, with value sales declining by 12% for the last 12 weeks and by 19% for the latest four weeks.
Overall, 771kgs less of ignition products were sold during the last 52 weeks.
New solid fuel standards
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan marked International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on 7 September by announcing the new standards for all domestic solid fuels, which will be introduced across the State within a year. From that point on, the most polluting of fuels will no longer be available on the Irish market. From 2022, the following new standards for solid fuels will apply in Ireland:
● Coal, coal-based products, any manufactured solid fuel, or peat briquettes will be required to have a smoke emission rate of less than 10g/hour, reducing to 5g/hr by 2025
● It is not proposed to make any changes to the smoke emission rate for biomass products (that contain coal), as this is already set at 5g/hr
● The sulphur content permitted for all fuels will be reduced from 2% to 1% over time
● Wood sold in single units under 2m3 will be required to have a moisture content of 25% or less (moving to 20% within four years) and wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with instructions for the purchaser on how to dry this wood
● In order to accommodate those with rights to harvest sod peat, no ban on its burning will be introduced. However, a regulatory regime to reduce its harm in more urbanised areas is under examination.
These regulations will be finalised in the coming months and will be in place for the 2022 heating season. They are being announced now to allow those servicing the domestic solid fuel market to plan accordingly, and to continue to invest in less polluting alternatives.
According to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, poor air quality causes premature deaths and each year some 1,300 people die in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning.
Public awareness campaign
In advance of the new regulations, Minister Ryan is launching a public awareness campaign focusing on the simple steps that people can take to reduce air pollution from domestic fires during the winter ahead. The campaign will be run across national and local radio stations, in the national and regional press, and on social media from late September. It will centre around three core messages or the ‘ABC’ for Cleaner Air, which can help bring about significant improvements in air quality:
A – Ask yourself: “Do I need to light a fire?” Use other, cleaner heating sources, if possible B – Burn cleaner, more efficient, low-smoke fuels and make sure you use the right fuel for your appliance
C – Clean and maintain your chimneys and heating appliances at least once a year.
“By taking these simple steps people can help to safeguard the health of those who are at particular risk of problems caused by air pollution, such as people with asthma, children and the elderly,” said Minister Ryan.
There’s no fireplace...
As the old adage goes, there is no fireplace like your own fireplace. This in particular rings true for Irish consumers who grew up with a fireplace at the heart of the family home. When it comes to driving sales in fuel and ignition products, it is worth noting that consumers may not be hugely brand driven.
This can be attributed, in part at least, to the fact that shoppers generally don’t have quite the same emotional attachment to products in these categories as they may have to certain brands in other categories, such as food and drink.
Considering that sales within his category are contingent upon the weather, fuel and ignition products are likely to see an increase in demand in the months ahead, as the cold and dark evenings kick in. Ensuring that fuel and ignition products are at the heart of the store during the coming months will be crucial to driving the sales of these items, which have a very limited shelf life.
It is also advisable for retailers to keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure that they are ready to satisfy their customers’ home heating needs.