Weekly Round Up, January 14, 2013

By Publications Checkout
Weekly Round Up, January 14, 2013

The Alcohol Beverage Foundation of Ireland (ABFI) has called on the government to support the drinks industry, as a Bord Bia report valued Irish drinks exports at €1.25 billion. Whiskey, in particular has seen its export numbers doubled in 2013. The UK is the largest market for Irish exports, with 31% of the market, while the global market is driven by growth in Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. Kathryn D’Arcy, director of the ABFI said, “With some of the most celebrated and internationally recognised brands available in over 100 markets abroad produced here, the Irish drinks industry plays a crucial role in supporting the Irish economy and promoting Ireland abroad. Bord Bia’s report confirms this position, highlighting the major contribution that it makes to Irish exports.” She added that the drinks industry remains under pressure, with excise on alcohol among the highest in Europe. “I would urge the Government to support this important sector of the national economy in every way possible so that export growth can be fostered effectively,” she said. 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) announced that there was an increase of 31% in Food Safety Enforcement Orders in 2013. Last year there was a total of 143 Enforcement Orders served, up from 109 in 2012, the highest figure recoreded to date. From 1st January to 31st December 2013, enforcement officers served 119 Closure Orders, four Improvement Orders and 20 Prohibition Orders on food businesses throughout the country. Most recently in December 2013, eleven Closure Orders were served on food businesses for breaches in food safety legislation pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010. Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI said, “Every Enforcement Order is one too many and it is extremely disappointing that, yet again, we have seen a significant year-on-year increase in the number of Enforcement Orders needing to be served, making the 2013 figures the highest number of enforcements to date…There is absolutely no excuse for negligent food practices.”

The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) has started an initiative to assist banks negotiating with small and medium sized companies in financial difficulty. The changes aim to make it easier for SMEs to get loans from more than one borrower to deal with debt. Mark Fielding, head of ISME said that one third of SMEs have borrowings from more than one lender and that the new initiative will do little other than facilitate a dialogue. The Central Bank revealed last year that about half of the €50 billion worth of loans to SMEs was under pressure. The IBF has signed AIB, BOI, Ulster Bank, ACC Bank, Danske Bank, KBC and Permanent TSB to the new protocol. IBF president David Duffy said that the member banks recognise the importance of working with the SMEs to sort out their debts and return them to financial stability. SMEs with debts of between €250,000 and €10 million can participate in the process. Despite the new process, banks can still decide to withdraw assistance without giving any notice to the SME. 

The European Central Bank will release new €10 bank notes in September this year. The new note will feature a portrait of the Greek mythological figure of Europa. With improved security features, the notes will be more resistant to counterfeiting according to the ECB. It said that the €10 notes will include a hologram and watermark and will start circulating on September 23, 2014. Current €10 notes, which were issued in January 2002, will gradually be removed from circulation. Other notes in the Europa series will be introduced over the coming years. The €5 note was already launched last May.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD expressed how important the pig meat sector is to the Irish economy. He said that his department and its agencies will continue to work with the industry to explore new market opportunities and develop the sector to its full potential. He also outlined the Bord Bia 2014 strategic focus for the pig meat sector, which includes promoting the Quality Mark and the consumption of pork to consumers. This will comprise of TV, radio, POS and online advertising over 19 weeks in 2014. The export markets will also be supported, in particular building trade links with China. The Minister said, “In terms of trade development, Bord Bia will host an Irish stand at two trade fairs, SIAL China in Shanghai and CIMIE in Beijing, while inward buyer visits from this region will continue to be supported."


The Joint Oireactas Committee closes the deadline for submissions for Standardised tobacco packaging this Wednesday. Among those making a submission, the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) hopes to attend the Committee to give an oral presentation when the Bill is discussed in late January. The CSNA has proposed that plain packaging will not reduce consumption of tobacco, nor make it less attractive to those underage. A CSNA spokesperson said, “We believe that retailers, far more so than tobacco companies will suffer the most both in terms of additional stocking and errors in transactions but even more importantly, with the product being commoditised, the drive down into the Value sector will affect our profits very substantially, coupled with the ease of counterfeiting the actual packages.”

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) CEO, Paul Baxter, has written a letter to Topic Newspaper Group setting out members' concerns about the proposed introduction of an annual service fee. He explained that the introduction of this charge in the face of products that have a fixed, printed price, prevents retailers from setting their own level of profitability. He said, “Instead of the arbitrary decision to apply this annual fee, my News Operation Controller (Brian Murphy) and his team would be very willing to discuss with you some joint sales initiatives that might achieve the commercial objectives you seek.” Baxter called for the “unwarranted” annual fee to be suspended while communication takes place. 

A Polish Politician has called for Poles to boycott Tesco supermarkets in Poland. The boycott comes in response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to withhold child benefit for Polish migrants working in Britain whose children remain in Poland. Jan Bury, head of the Polish Peasants Party (PSL) said that by boycotting Tesco, “as Poles, we can also say 'no' to David Cameron and his policies, which are hostile and scandalous towards Poland and Poles.” Tesco has over 300 stores in Poland and employs around 30,000 workers there. A Tesco spokesperson reminded Poland that it is making a significant contribution to the Polish economy, and 'is proud' to serve customers in both Poland and the UK.

Suntory Holdings, the Japanese whiskey and beer producer, has announced its intentions to buy Beam for €11.7 billion. Beam holds brands Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Teacher's Whiskey and Canadian Club, among others. The acquisition will help Suntory, who last year bought Lucozade and Ribena, to boost international growth. The purchase price includes Beam’s outstanding net debt but will make Suntory the third largest premium spirits company in the world. Diageo were also considering purchasing Beam in 2012.

© 2013 - Checkout Magazine by Genna Patterson

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