In the papers this week 22 – 28 Aug 2009

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Lidl to stop stocking bottled water from Shannon Minerals, Glanbia will "aggressively address" its dairy business, retailers mount campaign against smugglers



27 August 2009

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Lidl is no longer stocking bottled water from Shannon Minerals, reports the Sunday Times. The discounter has not said whether its decision relates to a contamination incident last year, when the Limerick company recalled two batches of Lind House water found to contain coliform bacteria. The company has defended its water which is stocked by Tesco and Superquinn and was "deemed satisfactory in 2009" by the FSAI.

Glanbia has vowed to "aggressively address" its ailing dairy ingredients business, reports The Irish Independent, after it experienced a "very significant" loss. Overall, the group revealed a 28% fall in pre-tax profits for the first half of the year, sending shares down 3.7% on Wednesday. Glanbia’s John Maloney said the group would need to pay "a cent or so" less for milk to get the dairy ingredients business to break even, but he ruled out any imminent decrease to farmers.

Retailers have formed a group to campaign against the black tobacco market, Retailers Against Smuggling. Martin Mulligan, who owns the Topaz Londis Filling Station on the Roscommon Road in Athlone, told the Westmeath Independent that he has had to let three staff members go since the Government introduced the display of tobacco ban, while door-to-door sales of illegal cigarettes are flourishing. "They are being brought in at 35c a packet from places like China and then they are selling them on at €4 a packet or three for €10," said Mulligan.

The Irish Independent also reported that customs officials seized more than three million contraband cigarettes with an estimated street value of €1.2m on Wednesday, saving the Exchequer a potential loss of over €1 million. The cigarettes arrived into Dublin Port from China last week in a container supposedly carrying toys. However, the true nature of the haul was discovered in a Co Carlow warehouse, and three people from the area have since been arrested in connection with the crime.

JTI Ireland Ltd (formerly Gallaher) has stopped supplying cigarettes to a shop in the midlands because it believes it has been selling a counterfeit version of one of its best-known brands. The Irish Independent reports that the problem came to light when customers contacted them to complain that Benson & Hedges Gold cigarettes purchased in the shop were not up to normal standards. The cigarette manufacturer, which is adopting a zero tolerance approach, subsequently tested the cigarettes and is now satisfied they were fakes.

A company formed by over 140 pork farmers three years ago to protect and promote their industry will formally launch its Truly Irish Country Foods brand at Mitchelstown Food Festival this weekend. The Irish Examiner reports some 70% of the country’s pork producers are shareholders in the new company, which offers Bord Bia Quality Mark products, with the aim of returning a better share of the retail margin to the pig farmer.

Cereal makers will no longer be able to "dress up products with bogus health claims," according to The Daily Mail (UK). Under new EU rules, all new foods that make a health claim will have to be checked for accuracy before they go on sale. There will also be new legal binding definitions for terms such as ‘low fat’, ‘high fibre’ and ‘reduces cholesterol’. Furthermore, cereal producers will be unable to market products as healthy because they contain added vitamins or minerals, if they exceed a set threshold for sugar, salt or fat levels. A final discussion on the thresholds involved is currently under discussion.

Following the news Shane Clancy bought knives at 4am in Dunnes Stores in order to carry out his fatal attack, Brenda Powers examines in The Sunday Times whether knife sales should be restricted. She decides, however, that many items can prove just as deadly: "So why shouldn’t an insomniac chef be able to replenish his kitchen tools on a midnight trip to Dunnes Stores?" Imposing age limits or prohibiting knife sales outside daylight hours, however, would be "a long overdue response to a growing problem."

The Kerry Group has "defied the recession," according to The Irish Times, by reporting a 4% rise in trading profit for the first half of 2009, despite a 3.2% drop in sales. Chief executive Stan McCarthy said "consumer sentiment continues to be weak in Ireland, although things look to be bottoming out." In the UK however, the company had experienced "a more positive sentiment from a consumer perspective." Brands such as Denny and Galtee have also lost market share to private label and discount brands.

While C&C has previously experienced weak cider sales due to dismal summer weather, Nielsen figures show UK sales rose 1.2% in the four weeks to 8 August this year, reports The Examiner. The result comes in spite of British weather records showing July experienced twice the amount of rainfall than the 30-year average. Meanwhile, a report by Merrion found C&C may need to support its pear cider offering with further new products to boost sales.  

The Irish Times examines if current graduates are set to become "the lost generation," following the news that companies such as BT are freezing their graduate recruitment schemes. However the paper states, "the retailers are still committed to their long-standing graduate trainee schemes, with Tesco and Marks & Spencer each taking on a couple of hundred people straight from university."

Heineken NV, the world’s third-largest brewer, reported a better than expected rise in first-half operating profit this morning, driven by price hikes and cost savings despite lower volumes, reports The Irish Times. Shares of the producer of Heineken and Amstel, Europe’s number one and three beers respectively, rose as much as 9.3% to an 11-month high of €30.45.

The Irish Times also reports that Diageo has posted a 10% rise in annual earnings. However the drinks group has reset its profit targets to low single digit percentage growth for the current year to June 2010, due to concerns about the strength of any recovery.

The RSPCA has launched an online campaign called Quash the Squash in the UK, to fight against new EU legislation which would reduce the space battery chickens have to live in. If the UK Government signed up to the new legislation, farmers could keep up to 21 birds per square metre, whereas the current rule allows for 19 birds per square metre. This would grant each hen a space almost 25% smaller than an A4 piece of paper, according to The Telegraph (UK).

According to the newly unveiled third edition of The World Tobacco Atlas, the Irish economy lost $980 million (€684 million) in 2007 because of tobacco use, while the global economy lost almost $500 billion. The Irish Times reports that this has been attributed to lost productivity, misused resources, missed opportunities for taxation, and premature death.

UK consumers are taking the environmental message about single use carrier bags on board, without the Government enforcing a fee, according to plastic bag producer, Bunzl. The FTSE 100 company which supplies businesses with carriers, packaging and other products, has said in The Guardian that deliveries of single-use carrier bags to UK shops fell some 25% last year and continued to drop in the first half of this year. However, the firm claimed sales of multi-use "bags for life" had "gone up quite a bit."

The Irish Examiner reports on Sainsbury’s plans for expansion in the North. The  supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced plans to create 200 new jobs at a call centre in Newry.

Sainsbury’s has created a further 100 jobs in West Belfast. When the Anderstown branch opens in late summer, it will be the largest supermarket in the North.  

Furthermore, the UK supermarket giant has claimed it will create up to 20,000 seasonal jobs to meet demand during the Christmas and New Year period. Sainsbury’s, which has 817 outlets and 150,000 staff, said nearly 23 million shoppers visited its stores in the week before Christmas last year, when its workforce was bolstered by 12,000 seasonal staff. The rise to 20,000 this year reflects new space and stores, as well as an increased number of online shoppers.



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