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Weekly Round Up, September 16, 2014

Published on Sep 15 2014 11:55 AM

Weekly Round Up, September 16, 2014

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries board has announced the shortlist for the BIM Young Fishmonger 2015 competition. The five finalists are: Gerard Collier from Louth, Stevie Connolly from Dublin, Matuesz Kowalik and Neil Turner from Co. Dublin and Gary Quinn from Westmeath. Now in its second year and gaining increasing interest and prestige within the industry, the competition aims to recognise and reward young fishmongers, whilst raising the standards of product knowledge and skills across the sector. The five shortlisted contenders are due to compete in round two and three of the competition, in which they will be tested on their knowledge of seafood, their understanding of quality issues, skills, techniques and customer service. The finalists will also be required to fillet and prepare a range of fish and shellfish under time constraints, in a test of their practical prowess. The five finalists will all receive a class in seafood cookery from TV chef, Martin Shanahan, as well as a trophy, a place on BIM’s retail development workshops, a set of professional knifes and a cheque worth €500. The winner will be announced at a presentation lunch in the Radisson St Helen’s Hotel, on November 24 and will receive a study trip to France and a cheque for €1,000.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among those that addressed a celebratory luncheon at the Herbert Park Hotel in Dublin last week to mark the 30th anniversary of the Guaranteed Irish brand. To mark the occasion, Guaranteed Irish also welcomed Ian Harrison, Managing Director, Australian Made, an organisation which promotes Australian products and services. Commenting at the event, Tom Rea, Executive Director, Guaranteed Irish, said; “Guaranteed Irish is delighted to celebrate 30 years of working with and promoting Irish products and services. Our symbol makes shopping for Irish products and services easier. Consumers know that when they buy a product or service featuring our logo they are supporting Irish companies and safeguarding jobs. The Guaranteed Irish brand mark now features on the packaging of more than 250 Irish companies, including the likes of Johnston Mooney & O’Brien, Tayto and Cow & Gate.

Guinness opened the new 'Brewhouse No.4' at St. James’s Gate, Dublin last week. ‘Brewhouse No.4’ is the largest stout brewery in the world and is also reputed to be the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable. Taoiseach Enda Kenny commented at the launch: “I'm delighted to open the new Diageo brewery at St. James’s Gate. Ireland has a worldwide reputation for quality food and drink production and this new €169 million investment in the heart of Dublin will help contribute to our export led recovery.” Also speaking at the opening, CEO of Diageo, Ivan Menezes commented: “This is a great day for Diageo and a great day for Guinness, one of the most iconic brands, not just in Ireland, but around the world. Our decision back in late 2011 to invest in St James’s Gate, represented a €169 million vote of confidence by Diageo in Guinness and in our beer business. It also represented a major vote of confidence in the Irish economy itself." Brewhouse No.4 amalgamates all of Diageo’s brewing operations into St James Gate, which Menezes explains will ensure “the long term sustainability and global competitiveness of our brewing operations. Brewhouse No.4 will support the growth in our exports market and Diageo’s ambitions for further growth.”

A survey launched by KPMG and Red C has shown that Irish companies are continuing to be more positive about the impact of recession on levels of innovation. In fact, 81% of respondents believe that Irish companies are more innovative since the onset of the recession. This is an increase of 4% on last year, and 9% on 2012. Ken Hardy, Partner and Head of R&D with KPMG in Ireland, said: “As Ireland moves out of recession, disruptive technologies and intense competition are impacting every sector. It’s good to know that more and more Irish businesses see innovation as a way of future proofing their business.” Over three quarters (76%) of Irish firms are currently innovating, and a further 13% are planning an innovative project in the near future. Bigger companies are more likely to be currently innovating than smaller companies, although this gap has recently been narrowing. Nearly nine out of ten firms (87%) surveyed believed that Irish companies are either more innovative or just as innovative as in other countries, an increase of 5% on last year. However, almost two in five companies (39%) surveyed are dissatisfied with the Government’s efforts to help nurture innovation in Irish firms.

Work has begun on what is soon to be the biggest independent whiskey producer in Ireland, following completion of the project in 2016. The €25 million Walsh Whiskey distillery, located at Royal Oak, Co. Carlow is expected to create 55 permanent jobs and 70 temporary construction jobs. It will produce Irish pot, grain and malt whiskey under Walsh’s brands, The Irishman and Writer’s Tears. The development is also set to include two maturation houses and a “visitor experience” to handle 75,000 tourists by 2021. Both the government’s Enterprise Ireland scheme and Italian’s drinks company, Illva Saranno, producer of Tia Maria, have backed development of the distillery. Bernard Walsh, founder of the Walsh Whiskey Distillery has said the company’s goal is to be recognised as the best independent distiller of premium Irish whiskey. The company has reported a revenue growth of 300% over the past five years, with 90% of its sales come from international exports to 30 countries. With the support of Illva Saranno, it plans to gain a foothold in the Asian sector, where the Italian company is already successful.

Glanbia has announced plans to buy out a US protein-supplement firm for nearly €120 million. Glanbia recently announced its cash purchase of The Isopure Company. The $153 million (€118 million) buyout is designed to bolster the multinational food producer’s sports nutrition business. Commenting on the buyout, group managing director Siobhán Talbot said, it would be an “excellent addition” to the company’s performance nutrition brands, giving it the opportunity to use its infrastructure to grow the business. Isopure produce powders and ready-to-drink protein supplements for the sports nutrition market, which is predicted to grow at a rate of 7% a year in Ireland. Davy Research analyst Declan Morrissey commented, Glanbia had found a business that that was a “good fit with its stable of existing brands” even though there was a “scarcity of quality assets in the sports-nutrition space.” Morrissey added that the price paid for the business looked “fair”, considering the company’s expected 20% yearly growth.

Improving retail sales and customer sentiment have led to an increase in retail rents in sought-after urban locations, according to a report released by property consultants, Savills Ireland. The recent report suggests that this change has been driven by an increase in part-time jobs being made permanent. Savills Chairman, Larry Brennan commented, “Improving sentiment and sales have seen demand for retail space rise significantly, with competitive bidding for prime properties becoming commonplace. This in turn has led to rental increases in prime locations. However, speaking to the Irish Examiner, Chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, Seán Murphy said that this improvement “is on the back of a slump in the Irish economy that was only exceeded among OECD members by Iceland since the noughties.” Murphy added, “While many retailers have not been able to secure reductions due to their being tied to upwards only rent contracts, talk of rents actually increasing is hard to take or believe. [...] The will always be certain transactions that are out of line with the broader rental market conditions, but these should not be uses to extrapolate macro trends in the martket.” Murphy also cautioned that rents must be set at sustainable levels to protect jobs in the retail industry.

Dawn Meats chief executive Niall Browne has called on Irish food companies to take advantage of opportunities for international expansion. Addressing the annual Agricultural Science Association conference last week, he said that companies that ignore these opportunities will put themselves in peril. “It’s a case of eat or be eaten. The reality is that [global] consolidation is happening, and Irish businesses in the food industry must adapt to this. Amid the explosive growth of middle class consumption in new previously unexplored markets, opportunities abound for ambitious companies.” Browne also argued that the Irish food industry needs to develop tighter supply chains to safeguard its reputation in the wake of last year’s horsemeat scandal. He said this showed the risks of over-long supply chains. “There should only be three links in the chain,” Browne continued. “The farmer producing quality assured beef, the processor with world class facilities and processes, and a good customer who can purchase regular volumes at a fair price. In this way trust and efficiency is consolidated along the supply chain, and the risk factor is reduced.”

Over 600 products competed at the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, with Dunnes Stores’ French Trimmed Connemara Hill Lamb talking the Overall Gold ‘Q’ for the most outstanding product. Meanwhile, Clontarf Classic Blend Whiskey from Aldi scooped the top drink award, and Lidl took home the most prizes overall, with gongs for its Irish Extra Mature Cheddar and Irish Chocolate Selection. The awards were presented to 57 winners across different categories by TV chef Catherine Fulvio. The judging panel included over 70 food journalists, retailers and chefs from across the country, and all surplus food from the tastings was donated to the Capuchin Centre for Homeless People.

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Emily Horne and Nathan Evans.

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