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Health Stores Ireland/New Natural Business Retailer Awards 2024

Health Stores Ireland has announced its annual retailer awards for 2024 in partnership with New Natural Business.

Irish health store retailers will be eligible for awards in seven categories, with a winner and two finalists in each category:

The awards will be presented at the ‘Putting Our Best Foot Forward Again’ event to be held in Shannon, County Clare on January 28th. Read more about the event here.

Applications from retailers are now open with a December 22nd deadline.

Judging will be by an independent panel with finalists and overall winners announced and presented at the event.

Save £115 on staff training

The Health Food Institute is offering a massive reduction on its courses in a bid to raise standards in the retail sector.

Diploma Part One is on offer at the special price of £80 – a saving of £115 – with Diploma Part Two at half price until the end of December.

All retailers who enrol a member of staff on an HFI course will continue to be included in the HFI's Sample Box Scheme and will receive a selection of product samples four times a year.

In its 44-year history, the HFI has delivered high quality training for health food retailers and their staff but a difficult trading period has led to a drop-off in the number of students seeking higher professional standards.

Enrol now at while the offer is on the table.

Inflationary pain

UK inflation fell in October as energy prices and food inflation eased, with headline inflation dropping to 4.7% from 6.3%. But although food and non-alcoholic drinks dropped a percentage point compared with September, the annual inflation rate for food stands at 10.1%. The rate has declined every month since March.

When the going gets tough...

According to Small Business Britain's SME barometer survey, a third of owners think running a business has become harder in the last year but 70% say the challenges of the past three years have made them more resilient. Half see rising costs as their biggest challenge in the next six months and 57% have been hampered by cashflow challenges. See what a cross section of health food independents are thinking, here.

Shoplifting and abuse

A surge in retail crime has been negatively impacting independent shops across sectors and locations over the past 12 months.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) surveyed its members to grasp a snapshot of how stores have been hit by the crimewave.

The survey showed that 40% of shop owners or staff had experienced verbal abuse, while 6.5% had come up against physical harm from customers in the past year. Of those physically abused, 82% decided to not report it to police, while those that did said it didn't lead to prosecution (18%).

The results also showed that 70% of those who had experienced verbal abuse said it has got worse in the last 12 months compared to the previous year, while 50% of those who suffered physical abuse said it had worsened.

Police, retailers and Government representatives have jointly set out further measures to tackle the rise in shoplifting, catch more prolific offenders and keep retail workers safe.

The plan includes a police commitment to prioritise urgently attending the scene of shoplifting instances involving violence against a shop worker, where security guards have detained an offender or where attendance is needed to secure evidence.

In 2014, a new law said anyone charged with the theft of items under £200 did not need to attend court. Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party would ditch the £200 rule on shoplifting to clamp down on crime.

Ultra-processed food ‘should be labelled addictive'

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) can be as addictive as nicotine or alcohol, according to researchers writing in the BMJ.

Their wide-ranging analysis of studies from 36 different countries shows that UPF addiction appeared to occur in 14% of adults and 12% of children.

"Refined carbohydrates or fats evoke similar levels of extracellular dopamine in the brain striatum to those seen with addictive substances such as nicotine and alcohol," they said.

Their scathing report called for UPFs to be labelled as "addictive substances".

Many UPFs contain an equal combination of sugar and fat, a ratio rarely found in natural whole foods. This sends a happy message to the brain and keeps them coming back for more, giving rise to the term "Comfort Food".

The researchers gave the example of an apple, salmon and a chocolate bar. The apple has a carbohydrate to fat ratio of 1:0, while the salmon has a ratio of 0:1. The chocolate bar, however, has a carbohydrate to fat ratio of 1:1, which appears to increase a food's addictive potential.

Degrading the physical structure of foods through industrial processes can also make them more addictive as they are lower in fibre and sugars and fats are delivered more quickly to the gut, sending a different message to the brain.

Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards 2024 open for entries

Now returning for a third year, the Farm Shop & Deli Show has launched the Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards 2024 in partnership with The Grocer.

The Awards celebrate the best products across the specialist food & drink sector and are supported and judged by leading farm shop & deli retailers, top wholesaler buyers and owners and industry experts. The awards are open only to products that are sold in farm shops, delis and specialist food retailers.

Categories include Beverages, Chilled & Frozen Desserts, Chilled Deli, Condiments & Sauces, Fermented & Smoked Foods, Meat, Non-Food, Plant-Based, Preserves, Savoury Biscuits & Snacks and Sweet Bakery & Confectionery.

Judging will take place prior to the Farm Shop & Deli Show, part of the UK Food & Drink Shows (29 April – 1 May 2024, NEC Birmingham) to allow winners the maximum opportunity to promote their achievements in the lead up to the exhibition.

Entries are submitted via the Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards website - - and close on January 19th 2024.

Health Stores Ireland's Big Bash is back

The Irish health food industry is to return to Shannon next January, the scene of an amazing Best Foot Forward event earlier this year that included the much-loved Retailer Awards sponsored by New Natural Business.

The return event, called 'Putting Our Best Foot Forward Again', takes place at Treacys Oakwood Hotel, Shannon, Co. Clare on January 28th and will feature new discussion topics, new exhibitors, awards and new speakers.

To book your place, contact Health Stores Ireland, [email protected].

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