Warm homes, warm hearts
Autumn has landed, and winter isn’t far away, so consumers are starting to stock up on their home-heating fuels and all the innovations that come with them for the new season, writes Doug Whelan
18 October 2017 | 0
At a glance: Fuel
- Over 70% of Irish households have open fires
- Zip is Ireland’s favourite firelighter brand and the market leader in the solid firelighter category
- Bord na Móna is continuing its investment in a sustainable future, with work recently commencing on a brand new state-of-the-art smokeless fuel facility at Foynes, Co. Limerick
- Bord na Móna is the largest supplier of solid fuel in Ireland
- It is estimated that Homestead Firelighters account for 53% of the total firelighter sales within symbol groups and independent retailers, while rivalling the two leading brands in Ireland
- Homestead has increased its investment in the Homestead Firelog which will mean deeper, more frequent promotion activity in line with the market
- According to Bic, it is critical to drive visibility of the range of lighters to maximise trial as studies have proven that 89% of users are likely to buy again with 75% also likely to recommend it to others*
- As the majority of lighter purchases are made on impulse**, retailers should invest in impactful displays that engage the customer. Finally, siting lighters alongside both firelighters and candles will help maximise conversion***
*(Source: Utility European Consumer Survey – Harris Interactive, Jan 2012)
**(Source: Utility European Consumer Survey – Harris Interactive, Jan 2012)
***(Source: Colour Change Multi-Purpose Lighter – Harris Interactive, March 2014 – 2,000 respondents)
Autumn is the same every year in Ireland; a brief rebound into summery temperatures hits in mid-September, before it all comes crashing down and households across the country are reaching for the firelogs, firelighters, fuel, kindling and all the rest.
When that time comes, retailers would be wise to have their shelves fully stocked with a range of options for households of all different sizes, because it’s something that customers simply cannot do without and will pick up in their droves.
That said, the fuel industry this year is also focusing on the community, with one brand working on a project with the Age Action charity to help elderly and infirm people keep themselves and their homes warmed during the winter months.
To learn about this, and all of the latest innovations that the home heating brands are launching this year, read on.
The gift of warmth
Research by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland reveals the rather distressing statistic that Ireland and Northern Ireland have among the highest levels of excess winter mortality in Europe, with an estimated 2,800 excess deaths on the island over the winter months*.
At the same time, one would think that living in a large city or built-up area, surrounded by thousands of people, a person would rarely feel alone or vulnerable. That is precisely the case for thousands of elderly people in Dublin who still live in their family homes – homes with strong emotional ties but dilapidated, and difficult and expensive to heat.
To help, Zip has teamed up with the charity Age Action with the aim of reducing the mortality figure for winter 2017 by “Giving the Gift of Warmth.”
Zip is donating 15,000 Starterlogs to Age Action, which will ensure they are given and used by those who need them the most.
To further help with the cause, Zip presented Age Action with a cheque for €5,000 at the National Ploughing Championships last month.
Zip’s firelogs are the ideal solution for the elderly. Lightweight, easy to ignite and they produce a roaring fire in under eight minutes. The firelogs burn for up to 90 minutes, radiating heat and keeping the home warm and toasty. Consumers can also add other fuels such as coal, wood and peat after 20 minutes of ignition, to keep the fire burning long into the night.
As the only Irish manufacturer of firelogs, Zip continues to innovate in the ignition sector and is launching several new products this season. These new products include:
- The Fire Stick: Designed for customers who want all the power of the original Zip high performance firelighter, but with the brand’s inimitable shape and “just light the wrapper” technology
- The Ultimate Winter Starter Pack – Exclusively available at Dunnes, the pack contains one pack of 60 long-burning firelighters, three Starterlogs and one pack of Soot Reducer. Customers have the flexibility to start their fires with the firelighters or, when time is limited, by using the Starterlog with the Soot Reducer to help prevent build-up of soot in the chimney
- Kindling – Unlike most kindling available, Zip Kindling is kiln dried in 80 degree heat (6-8 hours). This ensures no insects, bugs or pesticides. The moisture content that remains is lower than most on the market. This not only helps lighting performance but also means the risk of mould is significantly lowered, giving the product an extended shelf life
- Quickstart – This mini log replaces the need for newspaper; kindling is made from Irish Willow and is a great natural alternative to original firelighters whilst maintaining all the power.
*(Source: All-Ireland Policy Paper on Fuel Poverty and Health – The Institute of Public Health in Ireland, 2007)
Q&A with Terry Coates, managing director of Zip
Q: As Zip’s 2017 campaign kicks off, what is the main message the brand wishes to convey to consumers and retailers alike?
The main message we would like consumers and retailers to take away from our campaign is that we are giving the gift of warmth; in turn we would like others to do the same. They can do this by buying our products not only for themselves but for family members and people in their community who potentially can’t.
Q: What new innovations or products are being introduced for the winter of 2017?
The Fire Stick is designed for customers who want all the power of the original Zip high performance firelighter, but with the shape of the firelog brand. We’re working with Dunnes Stores to exclusively stock the Ultimate Winter Starter Pack, which contains a pack of 60 long-burning firelighters, three Starterlogs and one pack of Soot Reducer. This offers customers flexibility with the type of fire they want and how much time they have.
We’ve got Kindling, which has an extended shelf life and helps lighting performance, and the Quickstart, which eliminates the need for newspapers usage. All of these give consumers more choice than ever in their fire at home.
Q: You have announced a partnership with Age Action to provide Starterlogs for elderly; why is this type of project important to the company?
We are a proud Irish manufacturing company which has been employing local people for generations. We felt passionate about giving back to the Irish community and those that were the most vulnerable, and so approached Age Action to see how the brand could help through the winter months to keep the elderly warm. Age Action, which is mainly a volunteer-based organisation, runs a Care and Repair programme. They visit people who can’t manage to do the tasks we take for granted, like change a light bulb. It is these people who will receive a two-week supply of starter logs and the Age Action volunteers will be showing them how simple they are to use.
Continuously competitive offering
After the launch of the Homestead firelighter brand in 1986, the range quickly became a stable product within the brand’s portfolio, generating considerable sales in the category. It is estimated that Homestead firelighters account for 53% of the total firelighter sales within symbol groups and independent retailers, while rivalling the two leading brands in Ireland.
Over 70% of households have open fires and the ignition sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the household category. The Homestead fuels range consists of two SKUs of Firelighters, 30s and 60s and a Firelog which was introduced to the range in early 2005.
With the increase in trading of fire logs in the Irish market, a full review of the Homestead promotion plan took place. Following this review, the brand recently introduced its new 700g log to the range. This offering allows a continuous four for €5 RSP while maintaining a healthy margin for the retailer.
“We are delighted to introduce this increased investment,” says Janice Gibney, brand manager for Homestead, “which will ensure retailers are continuously competitive for the full season.”
Firebuilder by Inferneco is a combination of a firelighter, kindling and cardboard in one product. This unique blend makes it light fires faster than any other firelighter on the market. What’s more, it has no kerosene so is a natural firelighter. It has reduced the time to get a fire to 1kw by 15 minutes – which really matters in midwinter when consumers arrive home to a cold house and want to light their fire, quick and easy.
Since it was established in 2011, Inferneco has sold 7.5m Firebuilders. At that time, Tesco called Firebuilder its “most successful new product launched in all household sectors” (i.e. BBQ, bulk fuel, convenience logs, firelighters, others), and also it “accounted for 97% of all NPD value in the firelighter market on a moving annual total basis that year.”
Some of the benefits of Firebuilder include:
- Better for the environment-made from 100% recycled cardboard
- Simple to use and easy to light
- No mess
- Multi-purpose: Acts as a firelighter and kindling in one – no need for kindling or additional firelighters
- Can be used on barbecues as no odour to transfer to the food
- Produces a fuller fire and achieves a faster heat production than comparable products
Firebuilder is distributed exclusively through Newspread. To place an order, call 023 886 3850, contact your local Newspread rep or log into retailer order portal at www.newspread.ie /retailers. Order before 2pm for next-day delivery anywhere in Ireland.
Cosy and cost-effective
Consumer demand is growing rapidly for greener and more efficient fuels in particular for use in stoves. In response to this growing need, Bcosy, manufactured in Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, has become a household favourite nationwide.
Customers have been attracted to Bcosy products because they are clean, convenient and easy to handle. On top of this, they are environmentally friendly, offer good value for money and (most importantly) are guaranteed Irish.
Bcosy briquettes are made from a specially developed mix of hardwoods, softwoods and oil seed rape straw. This optimum blend contains just 10-12% moisture compared to 30-40% of other fuel types and solid timber logs. They also act as a direct replacement for traditional coal or peat briquettes.
They come in bales of 12 and are made from compressed wood/straw. Their shape and weight make them idea for adding to open fires and stoves. Generating only a small amount of ash, they save time and energy cleaning out the fire when required.
They are suitable for use in any appliance; wood-burning or multi-fuel stoves, along with conventional fire-places and open grates
Unlike other brands which add a fire accelerant, here the briquettes ignite when used with a fire lighter due to the optimum mix and low moisture content. As the product also produces less smoke than traditional fuels, making them more environmentally friendly, and above all the briquettes generate great heat.
Since its launch on the market in 2011, Bcosy has steadily grown its sales through independent outlets year on year. Growth is expected to increase by 25-30% in the next 12 to 14 months. To learn more or place an order, visit www.bcosywoodbriquettes.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highest quality fuel
A brand new smokeless fuel manufacturing plant was officially opened by Stafford Fuels last month, which allows the brand to pick the highest quality raw materials. Combined with the new high-tech plant, the result is a superior fuel for the end user: smokeless SuperGlow Xtra, a high quality ‘Xtraheat’ stove coal giving exceptionally strong heat for up to eight hours.
The SuperGlow Xtra is a large 130g pillow ovoid, particularly suitable for open fires and multi-fuel stoves. It is the product of extensive testing both in the development laboratory and later in Stafford Fuels’ own manufacturing plant.
Stafford Fuels has also developed a new small ovoid for multi-fuel stoves and closed appliances, which guarantees high heat lasting over a prolonged period. It will be sold under the existing Xtraheat Stove Coal brand.
Furthermore, Stafford Fuels has developed a large bituminous ovoid which burns as well as premium Polish or Colombian coal, but comes at a very competitive price. This ovoid burns very hot, great flame and a high level of burnout. This provides very even heat over an extended period with no cracking or spitting and low ash.
Stafford Fuels has a dedicated outlet in Rathnew to supply the retail market. With a high quality selection of 20 Kg and 10 Kg (inc. handle) bags, the brand provides delivery down to a single euro pallet to stores to suit any space limitations retailers might have.
Fuelling a sustainable future
For over 80 years, Bord na Móna, the largest supplier of solid fuel in Ireland, has led the way in designing an innovative and convenient range of solid fuel solutions for Irish consumers. The company recently launched its site preparation works for its €20m smokeless coal plant at Foynes, Co Limerick. Speaking at the launch, the head of Bord na Móna Fuels, Eddie Scaife said that while the company has been supplying the Irish consumer with what they need to heat their home for generations, Bord na Móna is looking forward to supplying cleaner, smokeless coal that can be relied on and that more crucially will perform as well as traditional coal products. The development is good for the environment, good for jobs and good for the consumer.
This season, the company is introducing newly designed and rebranded packaging across its smokeless coal briquette range. The consumer can select from the new Fireheat Coal Briquette range if they are looking to enjoy an intensely hot coal fire that will last long into the night. The Stove Coal Briquettes are specially designed for maximum heat efficiency in multi-fuel stoves. The new design features consumer-led benefit Icons to demystify and educate on smokeless coal.
The Firequick range suits consumers looking for a quick lighting and shorter burn time product. Overall the new design will help consumers at the point of purchase to choose the right fuel to suit their particular needs.
Also launching this season is Peat Nuggets in a 20kg convenience size bag. A smaller peat briquette with all the great benefits of the original, iconic peat briquettes with consistent quality and performance. The peat nuggets are perfect for a fast lighting, warm fire with bright golden flame and a distinctive Irish peat smell.
At Bord na Móna, fuelling a sustainable future is the heartbeat of the business and the company continues to offer more choice for consumers in the future. www.bordnamona.ie.
Bord na Móna launches move to Bioenergy
Bord na Móna has launched its new Bioenergy business, marking a critical step away from its traditional peat business towards renewable energy generation and supply. The announcement was made with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten at the National Ploughing Championships last month.
“In simple terms you will see the company move away from bogs and peat and towards bioenergy as the central focus of operations,” said head of Bord na Móna Bioenergy, Patrick Madigan. After eighty years of bog operations, this is a massive step change.
“Bord na Móna Bioenergy will be sourcing sustainable biomass here and abroad providing green energy and green jobs to replace traditional operations and employment,” he added. “Two years ago we made the commitment to exit peat for energy generation by 2030. Today we are making good on that promise and pointing the way towards biomass as a new green energy source for Ireland.”
In the next few years, the company will be supplying 1.5 million tonnes of sustainable biomass material per annum to customers including other power generators and large energy consumers.
Biomass is Europe’s number one source of renewable energy but has not, until recently, featured as a potential energy source in Ireland. Bord na Móna will be using agricrop (principally willow) forestry by-products including thinnings, brash, pulpwood as the main sources of biomass material. This material is currently being sourced in Ireland and abroad. The company also has plans to develop a pellet plant in the United States to supplement supply while large-scale domestic sources are being developed.
Biomass materials will allow the company to replace peat and provide a 100% renewable, reliable and secure energy supply. The company is already using biomass to co-fire its power station at Edenderry, Co Offaly. This has already resulted in a substantial drop in greenhouse emissions with further decreases expected as biomass is increasingly deployed as an energy source. The use of renewable, greenhouse gas neutral biomass is especially attractive as it allows electricity generators to dispatch power on demand and not be wholly dependent on wind and sun strength. The company sees this feature as an important compliment to wind and solar provision that would support further development of other carbon zero energy sources.
Use of biomass would also enable the Irish grid to radically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels would be a substantial win for the environment and Irish consumer as Ireland works to meet its commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Bord na Móna plans to use biomass in different ways from generating electricity to power communities and businesses to developing new products such as the Biomass Briquette.