SuperValu and Centra suppliers pick up 155 Blas Na hÉireann Awards

36 awards for Centra and 119 for SuperValu at the prestigious Irish Food Awards

SuperValu and Centra scooped 155 accolades at the Blas Na hÉireann Awards 2020, held on Saturday, 3 October.

Celebrating the very best of Irish food and drink, Blas na hÉireann, are the largest food awards on the island, with producers across Ireland competing to take home a Blas accreditation.

Centra suppliers took home 36 awards, with 11 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze, making the brand the top convenience retailer at the awards.

Centra’s wins included 17 products from the ‘Inspired By’ Centra range, including Rotisserie Chicken (Carton Bros), Carrot, Orange & Turmeric Juice (Sunshine Juice) and Overnight Oats (Freshcut Foods Services).

Speaking on receipt of Centra’s awards, Ray Kelly, Interim Managing Director for SuperValu and Centra, said; “Blas na Éireann is the biggest blind tasting competition in Ireland and we’re very proud to have taken 36 accolades at this year’s awards. This is testament to Centra’s high quality producers. Only launched in 2018, we’re delighted to see 17 winners from our ‘Inspired By’ Centra range which uses the highest quality home grown ingredients from trusted suppliers and has become a firm favourite with customers.”

SuperValu, Ireland’s largest grocery retailer, took home 119 awards at the virtual ceremony.

SuperValu Own Brand suppliers and its exclusive brand producers picked up 53 awards and SuperValu Signature Tastes won 27 top-tier awards, the highest number of top tier awards won by any supermarket. Some of the gold winners included SuperValu Signature Tastes Raspberry Conserve (Folláin), SuperValu Signature Tastes Goats Cheese Bruschetta (Mr. Crumb) and SuperValu Signature Tastes Black Pudding (Sean Loughnanes Ltd).

In addition, SuperValu’s Food Academy producers picked up 66 awards – 21 Gold, 23 Silver and 22 Bronze including 2 Chef’s Larder Awards for Fancy Fungi Mushrooms – Grey Oyster Mushrooms and Skeaghanore Duck – Duck Fat.

Mr Kelly added, “At SuperValu we are committed to supporting more Irish food producers than any other retailer and in delivering the best quality products for our customers, over 75% of products on SuperValu shelves are sourced or produced in Ireland. It’s been another great year for our local producers and at a time when we are encouraging the country to shop local it is great to support and stock these award-winning brands and see them receive the recognition they deserve.”

 

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SuperValu launches new 100% Recyclable & Compostable Packaging on New Season Potatoes

SuperValu continues to help shoppers shop more sustainably as more product lines move to compostable and recyclable packaging

Potato season is here, and SuperValu has today announced that packaging is now 100% recyclable and compostable across six lines of own brand Potatoes. Customers will find delicious in-season Irish New Season Roosters and Kerr Pinks in store in paper potato bags that can be disposed of in either the green or brown bins found in most homes and businesses. Plastic netting has been removed from bags and replaced with cotton netting to ensure 100% of packaging can be recycled or composted. This move will remove a massive 380kg of plastic from circulation every year.

Over 13,500 Tonnes of potatoes are sold in SuperValu every year and this is another significant move in SuperValu’s commitment to making 100 percent of SuperValu own-brand, fresh produce and in-store packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.  This year alone SuperValu have moved over 26 lines of produce to recyclable or compostable packaging and products that don’t require packaging are now sold loose. SuperValu have been implementing these changes since 2018 and to date, a huge 5 tonnes of plastic, that would have gone to landfill, has been removed from circulation. In 2019 an enormous 84 tonnes of black unrecyclable plastic was removed from produce packaging by moving to loose produce, cardboard, or recyclable plastic as part of SuperValu’s sustainable packaging strategy to make 100% of its Own Brand and fresh fruit and vegetable packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. SuperValu is continuously making small changes to packaging in order to give customers the chance to shop more sustainably during every shop and in turn help SuperValu build more sustainable communities.

Ray Kelly, Interim Managing Director, SuperValu, said, “At SuperValu, we’re committed to reducing our impact on the environment. Removing unnecessary plastic from our own-brand packaging is a priority for us and by 2025 100% of SuperValu own-brand, fresh produce and in-store packaging will be recyclable, reusable, or compostable. The move to compostable and recyclable packaging on six lines of potatoes is another significant step towards that goal. So far, these changes have stopped 380Kg of plastic going to the landfill annually, a positive move that will impact communities around Ireland.”

SuperValu is committed to reducing its carbon footprint in Ireland by 70 percent by 2025. In addition to moving to sustainable packaging SuperValu is committed to operating all facilities with 100 percent green electricity and to sending no recoverable waste to landfill. Any food surplus in stores is sent to re-distribution charities so food waste is minimised as well as helping to alleviate food poverty.

 

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UCC Microbiology Student Meghana Srinivas Scoops SuperValu Award for Excellence in Food.

UCC Masters Microbiology student Meghana Srinivas recently won the SuperValu Award for Excellence in Food Microbiology for her work in isolating bacteria from food that may have useful roles in food and health.

The SuperValu Award for Excellence in Food Microbiology was presented by Ruth Dalton in UCC recently. Launched in 2015, the Award is presented to the highest performing student in the Masters in Food Microbiology Programme which is delivered through the School of Microbiology UCC. The programme has students from all over the world, including the US, China and India, who come to Ireland every year to participate in this programme. Safe and nutritious food is of vital importance to all consumers and research on microorganisms and their relationship with foods and the human host is essential in providing the platform for developing the knowledge required to provide foods that are safe, healthy and nutritious. UCC has a long tradition in this field which was the principle reason for the original partnership between SuperValu and UCC.

Ruth Dalton commented: “The leading edge research conducted by the team at UCC is recognised globally and we are delighted to honour this endeavour. The SuperValu Excellence in Food Microbiology Award is now in its sixth year and reflects the continuing positive association between UCC, Musgrave and the SuperValu Food Safety Team. The Masters research undertaken by Meghana Srinivas was to isolate and characterise bacteria from food that have potentially useful roles in food and health. We wish Meghana every success in her future career”.

“We are delighted to acknowledge the ongoing support of SuperValu for this important postgraduate programme”, added Professor Colin Hill, Director of the MSc in Food Microbiology at UCC. “Training the next generation of food microbiologists to ensure that we have a nutritious and safe food supply is a globally important issue and we appreciate the support of SuperValu in the form of this prize. Congratulations to Meghana who is a really deserving winner”.

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Musgrave appoints Michael McCormack as Managing Director of Musgrave Wholesale Partners

Musgrave has announced the appointment of Michael McCormack as the Managing Director of Musgrave Wholesale Partners. Michael is currently Managing Director of Musgrave in Northern Ireland and will take up his new role on 2 March, succeeding Noel Keeley who became CEO of Musgrave Group at the start of this year.

Michael is currently MD of Musgrave in Northern Ireland. In this role he has delivered significant sales growth for the SuperValu, Centra and Mace brands in Northern Ireland. Michael first joined Musgrave in 2007 and has held senior positions in the Wholesale Foodservice business prior to joining the business in Northern Ireland in 2015.

Commenting on his appointment, Musgrave CEO Noel Keeley said: “We are very pleased to appoint Michael McCormack as Managing Director of Musgrave Wholesale Partners. He has led significant growth in our business in Northern Ireland as part of our Growing Good Business strategy. With Michael’s leadership, Musgrave is ideally placed to respond to exciting opportunities in the wholesale and foodservice sectors. This includes meeting the demand for changing food tastes and leveraging our digital technology to deliver world-class customer experiences.”

Musgrave Wholesale Partners is the leading wholesale and foodservice business for retailers and SMEs and it is a one-stop shop for the growing hotel, catering and restaurant sector across the island of Ireland. Recent acquisitions include the fine food specialist La Rousse Foods and drinks distributor Drinks Inc.

Prior to joining Musgrave, Michael held a number of domestic and international roles with Statoil, including Vice President Customer Offer where he was responsible for Statoil Europe’s shop and forecourt brand portfolio. He holds an MBA from the Michael Smurfit Business School and he is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants.

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Centra records new sales milestone of €1.7bn in 2019 with Plans to open 20 new stores and add 480 jobs in 2020

Centra, Ireland’s leading convenience retailer, cemented its status as market leader after recorded sales of €1.7 billion in 2019, a 4% year-on-year increase on 2018.

Building on this strong commercial performance, Ireland’s leading convenience retailer plans to open 20 new stores this year, adding over 480 jobs to the Centra network in 2020. Centra retailers have also committed to further invest in revamping stores as part of an investment of €27 million.

Centra’s continued success stems from its 2016 brand repositioning to redefine the traditional convenience store experience with a healthier, more innovative offering across its network. The increase in sales has been largely attributed to increased demand for its innovative healthy food-to-go offering, capitalising on emerging consumer trends by offering new vegan, vegetarian and prepared evening meals as well as increased footfall to the newly designed internationally award-winning store format.

Centra’s “Inspired By” gourmet range was recognised as the number one convenience range at the prestigious Great Taste and Blas na hEireann awards this year. The “Inspired By” Centra premium range saw sales spike by double digits during the course of the year, helping the brand to attract more customers to do top-up shopping and purchase items for dinner or entertaining at home. The overall hot food-to-go category fared particularly well for Centra in 2019, increasing by 13%.

Centra has continued to invest in new product development. Frank and Honest coffee, which has established itself as the number one coffee brand in Ireland, saw sales increase by 19% in 2019. Centra rolled out a number of new brands including Moo’d, an in-store ice cream kiosk. Customers voted with their feet leading to over 3 million Moo’d cones sold during the course of the year.

Speaking at Centra’s annual conference at the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Centra said: “Centra continued to go from strength to strength in 2019, benefiting from the brand repositioning a number of years ago to transform the convenience store experience.

“People increasingly view Centra as a destination shop, so we’re seeing increased footfall as groups of consumers eat together in-store or do top-up shops for dinner. We continue to surpass shoppers’ expectations by rolling out new innovative and healthy ranges and working hard to ensure our customers have a great experience in our stores.

“We could not deliver any of this without our retailers, who are some of the best entrepreneurs in Ireland. They have embraced our new ideas and also shared their own innovative solutions with us to spread across the network. As a result, Centra continues to lead in the convenience market.”

With a total of 473 stores, Centra employs almost 11,000 people and serves over three million customers per week. Centra invests more than €240 million in local communities per annum, which is the equivalent of €4.5 million per week through a combination of payments to local suppliers, acquisition of local business services, wages, charitable donations and local sponsorships.

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Musgrave Awards Recognise Employee Heroes

Cork Transport Planning Manager Named Overall Superhero

Musgrave has named the winners of its fourth annual Heroes awards, with Ireland’s leading food retail, wholesale and food service company honouring its Overall Superhero and inspirational colleagues across six categories.

Launched as part of Musgrave’s 140-year anniversary celebrations in 2016, the Heroes awards provide Musgrave employees across the business an opportunity to nominate a colleague whom they feel embodies and brings to life Musgrave’s values and culture in their everyday work.

Hundreds of peer nominations were received from across the company. Candidates were selected by how they inspire their colleagues through their everyday actions and contribute positively towards making Musgrave a great place to work.

From these nominations, 34 finalists were selected with Brian McGuirk, Regional Transport Planning Manager with Musgrave in Cork named as the Overall Musgrave Superhero. Brian also received the Customer Hero award for his outstanding contribution.

Additionally, Musgrave employees were awarded prizes in five other categories at a gala dinner at the Powerscourt Hotel, Co Wicklow, with colleagues honoured for exceptional contributions in sustainability and community categories.

Commenting on the Musgrave Heroes award winners, Noel Keeley, CEO of Musgrave said: “At Musgrave, our people are key to our success and it’s important to recognise colleagues who consistently go the extra mile. The Musgrave Heroes awards allow us to celebrate  our dedicated, talented colleagues across a range of categories, whose commitment contributes to our ongoing success and ensures our continued growth.” 

The Musgrave Hero Category Winners are:

  • Magical Thinking Brought to Life: Robert Gallagher, Warehouse Operations Manager, Musgrave in Northern Ireland
  • Best Stretch Achievement: Sarah Faherty, Payments Specialist, Finance, Musgrave
  • Most Heroic Action: Christian Olari and Juan Carlos Goncalves, Online Team, Musgrave
  • Sustainability Champion: Carley Dennan, HR Manager, Musgrave
  • Customer Hero: Brian McGuirk, Regional Transport Planning Manager, Musgrave
  • Leading in the Community: Peter Slevin, IT Program Manager, Musgrave

 

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Centra is first convenience retailer to launch 100% compostable & reusable bag

Today, Centra unveiled its brand new compostable and reusable bag which is available in all stores across the country. Centra is the first convenience retailer in Ireland to introduce a 100% compostable bag, giving shoppers a more sustainable choice when it comes to carrier bags. It is expected its introduction will remove 1 million plastic bags from circulation each year.

The bag is made from a blend of renewable, raw materials and is available for purchase in Centra stores for just 89 cent. Once the bag has been used numerous times and is ready to be disposed of, this can be done so in a domestic brown bin. It is then fully broken down once taken to industrial composting sites, turning into water and CO2 within 90 days.

The compostable bag is just one of the steps Centra is taking in its commitment to be more sustainable and give consumers more sustainable options. To date Centra has already made positive packaging changes in-store, including the introduction of compostable fruit & veg bags, compostable salad bowls, replacing an estimated 580,000 plastic bowls per annum, and the introduction of Frank & Honest compostable coffee cups.

Looking forward to 2020, Centra will continue its commitment to customers to keep sustainability at the forefront of its strategy and development. Centra is working hard to make stores more environmentally friendly and make the communities in which it does business, more sustainable places to live and work.

Ahead of today’s launch, Martin Kelleher, MD Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland (MRPI) said “At Centra, we are committed to providing our consumers with more sustainable choices every day. This compostable bag is just one of the changes we are making to ensure we fulfil this commitment. We are delighted to be the first convenience retailer to take this step, helping to make consumers future shop at Centra a more sustainable one.

Centra has committed to make 100% of its own brand and fresh fruit and vegetable packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

For more information on the compostable bags and to find out where they are available, check out www.centra.ie

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Musgrave Signs Exclusive Partnership Agreement with The Happy Pear

Musgrave has today announced an exclusive partnership agreement across the island of Ireland with The Happy Pear, the leading vegetarian and vegan food brand in the country.

Under the terms of the agreement, Musgrave will have exclusive rights to the production, distribution and marketing of all Happy Pear retail products – i.e. packaged products sold in nationwide retail channels. The Happy Pear will continue to operate its cafés, foodservice franchise partnerships, production facilities plus educational courses and related services, which are excluded from the partnership.

The agreement also includes a framework for both companies to co-operate in developing and activating international markets for Happy Pear retail products.

The two companies have enjoyed a successful close working relationship since The Happy Pear joined SuperValu’s Food Academy Programme in 2013. The Happy Pear range of retail food products has been available in SuperValu, Centra and in other leading independent retailers and health food stores across Ireland.

Musgrave CEO, Noel Keeley added: “People are becoming more health-conscious and as Ireland’s leading retail group we have a driving commitment to support healthier lives. The Happy Pear is an excellent strategic fit for Musgrave and will strengthen our existing vegetarian and vegan offer to the market. We are looking forward to bringing The Happy Pear products to more people across the island of Ireland and to new markets internationally. This agreement also supports our Growing Good Business strategy of partnering with brands to deliver long term sustainable growth.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dave and Steve Flynn of The Happy Pear said: “After starting out fifteen years ago with a small veg shop we have grown The Happy Pear to four cafes, a farm, a coffee roastery, an online health education courses provider and a supplier of an amazing range of healthy food products. Musgrave has been a big part of this story. We want more people to experience our healthy foods and we want to develop and offer new products. Musgrave gives us the scale we need and is a like-minded partner with a team of retailers who believe in helping people to live healthier lives”.

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Musgrave announces transformative sustainability agenda to reduce and eliminate plastic usage and slash carbon footprint

‘Taking Care of Our World’ includes 25 initiatives targeting major reductions in plastics, carbon, food waste and unhealthy foods

Musgrave has today announced a range of new sustainability commitments across its operations and retail brands including plans to reduce the company’s carbon footprint by 70% by 2025, the equivalent of removing 20,000 cars off the road per year or 29,000 tonnes of CO2. Musgrave’s new ‘Taking Care of Our World’ sustainability strategy was launched today by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD said: “Industry must show leadership in responding to what is the greatest challenge of our time. The Climate Action Plan is published now. It is our roadmap forward. Every enterprise must look at how they operate their own business, with a view to doing so more sustainably. The strategy being launched today will be welcomed by consumers who are now looking to retailers to act in a way that is more conscious of their impact on the environment. I welcome in particular, the impact this strategy will have on Musgrave’s overall network. The entire retail industry has a powerful role to play in tackling this issue.”

It follows on from Musgrave being named by the Government as one of its Sustainable Development Goal champions in September. The company was one of the first businesses globally to integrate the principles of the UN Sustainable Development Goals into its day-to-day business activities and is committed to raising public awareness of the Goals as an SDG Champion over the coming 12 months.

Musgrave’s ‘Taking Care of Our World’ sustainability strategy consists of 25 commitments to reduce impacts on the environment, improving the health of shoppers and support the well-being of people and communities.  A sample of these commitments include:

  • making 100% of its own brand, fresh produce and in-store packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025;
  • reducing the carbon impact of the company’s operations across the island of Ireland by 70% by 2025;
  • operating all Musgrave facilities with 100% green electricity and sending zero recoverable waste to landfill;
  • ensuring that food surplus is used to alleviate food poverty through partnerships with re-distribution charities and that food waste is minimised;

These commitments follow on from significant progress that Musgrave has already made across a range of areas including:

Plastics

  • Musgrave, through its SuperValu brand now has the largest loose fruit and veg offering in the retail sector with trials on additional items such as coffee, tea, spices and cheese in place;
  • First Irish retailer to introduce 100% reusable compostable shopping bags, removing 2.5 million plastic bags from circulation;
  • Introduction of compostable fruit and veg bags, leading to removal of 2.7 million single use plastic bags;
  • 460 tonnes of non-detectable black plastic fruit and veg trays have been replaced with compostable and recyclable alternatives;
  • 75 tonnes of plastic removed from Own Brand water ranges;
  • The introduction of 100% compostable coffee cups and lids at Frank and Honest, Ireland’s number one coffee brand, diverting 25 million coffee cups from landfill;
  • Moving own brand meal range from black plastic to recyclable green trays, saving 54,000 trays;
  • The use of roll cages across all stores helps to reduce the packaging waste from goods delivered to each outlet;
  • The issuing of guidelines to all Own Brand suppliers about plastics reduction.

Energy

  • Musgrave’s award-winning Head Office building equipped with energy efficiency technology;
  • Musgrave’ retail energy savings are the equivalent to the amount of electricity required to power 17,000 homes;
  • 52,000 light fittings changed to LED since 2015;
  • 1,270 refrigeration cabinets replaced with energy efficient units with doors, resulting in 50% less energy consumption;
  • Annual Fleet Emissions reduced by over 55,000 tonnes annually.

Chris Martin, Musgrave Chief Executive, added: “We have a responsibility to make a difference to the health and well-being of our people, partners and consumers, whilst supporting the communities we serve and reducing our environmental impacts. The need for change is urgent particularly in areas such as health, climate change and plastics; Musgrave is committed to significant operational and behavioural transformation to leave a positive legacy for the generations that follow.”

As a partner to over 1,400 retailers, Musgrave will also help this wider network minimise the environmental and climate change impacts of their operations. Musgrave is supporting independent retailers with expertise, investment and training to make the changes necessary to minimise waste and maximise recycling. The company has already rolled out the largest energy training programme in the country in this respect.

As a member of Repak, Musgrave also funds household recycling bins as well as bottle banks, collection sites and recycling centres around the country that enable consumers to segregate and recycle their waste. This has helped to increase the level of packaging recycled in Ireland from under 15% in 1997 to 90% in recent years. In a bid to increase the rate of recycling, Musgrave has issued guidelines to suppliers about the use of more sustainable packaging materials and is also encouraging shoppers to switch and purchase more eco-frdly items to replace single use plastics. To this end, the company has recently launched a new eco-range – the largest eco-product range of any Irish retailer, with items such as reusable beeswax wrap to replace clingfilm and sandwich bags.

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Musgrave Agrees Acquisition of Drinks Inc

Musgrave has announced that it has agreed to acquire the brand and company assets of Drinks Inc. Drinks Inc will continue to trade as a stand-alone business.

Established in 2001 and with annual turnover of £66 million, Belfast based Drinks Inc is one of the largest and fastest growing independent drinks distributors on the island of Ireland. With a portfolio of over 1,000 products covering the spirits, wines, beer and soft drink categories, Drinks Inc is also the exclusive agent for premium brands and wineries including BrewDog, Dingle Distillery and the UK’s number one wine brand Isla Negra.

Kevin O’Leary has been appointed as the new Business Director of Drinks Inc with Paul Camplisson, Owner of Drinks Inc remaining on a consultancy basis and working closely with Kevin to grow the business.

Commenting about the announcement, Chris Martin, Musgrave Chief Executive, said: “As one of the fastest growing drinks companies on the island of Ireland, Drinks Inc is an excellent strategic fit for Musgrave and will strengthen our existing offer to the market. The acquisition forms part of our overarching Growing Good Business strategy to deliver long term sustainable growth and follows a £28 million investment programme to open 20 additional stores and revamp 40 existing stores in Northern Ireland that was announced earlier this year. I look forward to Drinks Inc joining our expanding portfolio of successful brands and to supporting the business to bring it to the next level of growth.”

Paul Camplisson, Owner of Drinks Inc added: “Becoming part of Musgrave is a fantastic opportunity for the Drinks Inc business. In a relatively short period of time, we have firmly established ourselves as one of the largest independent drinks distributors in the market. Musgrave will enable us to provide an enhanced service to our customers and their track record of growing successful customer-focussed businesses makes this the right move for Drinks Inc.

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