Tesco to sell "wonky" vegetables in a bid to cut food waste
Tesco is to sell irregular shaped carrots and mushrooms which would usually be thrown away.

IFA Horticulture Chairman Gerard Reilly says Tesco's move to purchase and sell irregular shaped vegetables has the potential to cut waste at farm level and to increase the proportion of produce farmers can sell for consumption.

Named "Wonky Veg", Tesco today announced they will sell carrots and mushrooms in specially marked "Wonky Veg" packs. This will give shoppers the opportunity to choose which vegetables they would like to purchase, rather than the supermarket rejecting them because of their irregular shape or size.

Every year millions of kilos of vegetables are thrown away or used as animal feed if they are classified as an irregular shape or size. Tesco Ireland buys nearly five million packs of Irish carrots every year sourced from two growers; Leo Dunne in Co Laois and John Dockrell’s in Co Wexford. Closed cup mushrooms are sourced from Codd Mushrooms in Co Carlow and Kerrigan’s Mushrooms in Co Meath.

One of the 50 Irish suppliers that showcased food products at the Tesco tent at the 2014 National Ploughing Championships, mushroom grower Leslie Codd welcomed the move by Tesco. He said: “Every year Irish vegetable growers discard millions of kilos of produce on the grounds of appearance. The reason for this is that customers have become used to buying perfect looking vegetables.

"The reality of the situation is that the 5-10% of vegetables that never make it to the retail shelf are perfectly fine. They may look a little bit odd, or wonky, but they taste every bit as good as the perfect looking produce we are used to buying. If customers bought this wonky looking veg more, it would greatly reduce wastage at farm level,” he added.

Tesco Ireland’s Fresh Buyer, Sinead McDonogh, commented: “These wonky veg mushrooms and carrots might not win a beauty contest but they are perfect for juicing or Autumn stews. There is scope for us to add more fruit and vegetables to this wonky veg line in the future but we will trial the offer first with carrots and mushrooms with a view to expanding the range depending on the response from customers. We don’t want our customers to compromise on quality, wonky veg just looks slightly different on the outside.”

However, IFA's Reilly also warned that returns to growers are currently at or below the cost of production, leaving no margin for reinvestment, weather issues or variable yields. "If the major retail multiples in this country are serious about having a sustainable fresh produce sector and ensuring a reliable supply of safe, home-grown food, they must show greater responsibility and offer a fair price to growers," he said.

Sterling falls to £0.90 against the euro
The UK currency plunged to a nine-month low against the euro on Wednesday amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit.

The pound sterling took a hammering on financial markets on Wednesday, with the UK currency weakening above £0.90 against the euro – a nine-month low. Market concerns around the growing potential of a no-deal Brexit scenario resulted in a sharp selloff in the UK currency against most major currencies.

Sterling has been under severe pressure this week after Liam Fox, the UK secretary for international trade, said a no-deal Brexit was now more likely than an agreement with Europe. Fox put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at “60-40”, which he blamed Michel Barnier and the European Commission for.

Aryzta shares plunge to fresh lows over debt fears
Investors sent Aryzta’s share price to fresh lows this week amid concerns about its spiralling debts.

Shares in Aryzta, the speciality bakery group and owner of the Cuisine de France brand, dropped almost 10% in trading early this week to hit new lows on the back of mounting investor concerns around the group’s debt position.

The latest weakening in Aryzta shares came after market analysts said the group would need to raise fresh capital in order to offset its current net debts of €1.6bn. Analysts also warned that rising grain prices due to the current heatwave in Europe, coupled with the continued high price for butter, would result in significantly higher raw material costs for the bakery giant.

This follows from last week when Fitch, the ratings agency, criticised the “opportunistic behaviour” of Aryzta and Lion Capital, for forcing their jointly owned subsidiary company Picard to issue new debt in order to pay a dividend to its two shareholders.

Aryzta received a dividend of €35m from the debt issue, on top of the €54m it received from Picard in the first half of the year.

Greencore sees growth in third quarter
The convenience food manufacturer experienced solid growth across its UK and US businesses over the past three months.

Greencore, the convenience food manufacturer with facilities in the UK and US, reported revenue of £639.6m in its third quarter to the end of June, an increase of 0.5% on the same three months last year.

On a like-for-like basis, revenue increased by 8.1% in the quarter. This sees year-to-date revenue at the sandwich maker at £1.9bn, up 14% on the same nine months last year.

The growth in the quarter was driven by Greencore's convenience foods business in the UK and Ireland, where revenue increased 1.4% to £376m in the quarter and is up 5.2% for the year to date.

The main growth was primarily driven by an increased revenue contribution from the distribution of third-party products through its direct-to-store network.

Reported revenue in other parts of this division decreased by 12.8% in the third quarter, reflecting the elimination of cake and dessert revenue. Once these are stripped out, revenue increased 2.5%.

The phased closure of Greencore's English dessert manufacturing facility in Evercreech was completed in June and the site was subsequently divested. Greencore is also now proposing to phase out some of its ready meal manufacturing at Kiveton.

Its US division reported a 0.8% decline in third-quarter revenues to £264m, though on a like-for-like basis revenues were up 8.6%. This was driven by its 2016 acquisition of Peacock Foods, where growth accelerated to 19.4%. The company says there was good volume growth.

Senior appointments

Greencore also announced this morning that it has appointed ex-General Mills senior executive Anton Vincent as the CEO of Greencore USA. In the UK, it appointed Peter Haden, currently group COO, to a newly created role of CEO of Greencore UK.

Greencore reiterated its FY18 guidance of adjusted EPS in the range of 14.7p to 15.7p.