Tag Archives: Ireland

MAX in Stockholm, Sweden; burger and chips from MAX

This morning.

It was reported that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed spoke to representatives of the meat industry, farming associations and Government agencies at 2am, by phone, amid talks aimed at resolving a dispute over beef prices.

The talks are expected to reconvene on Thursday or Monday next.

This morning, economist Jim Power, who is carrying out research on the Irish beef sector for the Irish Farmers’ Association, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland listeners that there are approximately 70,000 specialised beef farmers in Ireland,

These are farmers who are dependent on beef as their primary product.

He said 90 per cent of the beef produced in Ireland is exported by meat processors and that between January 2010 and July 2019, price compression led to the average price of beef sold in Irish shops falling by about 3.4 per cent.

He said this drop in price was largely due to the competition amongst retailers and pointed out that, in 2010, discount stores Aldi and Lidl accounted for around 9.5 per cent of grocery market in Ireland whereas now they account for more than 24 per cent.

Further to this…

Kieran Hennigan writes:

The meat-free revolution is much, much closer than you think.

Last week I travelled to Sweden and met an old friend for a drink who now resides in downtown Stockholm.

As is common place after a couple of pints, we developed a hunger and my eyes fell upon the golden arches of a McDonalds.

As a BigMac connoisseur, I suggested aloud that it was high time for a burger. Taken aback, my acclimatised friend audibly scoffed: “Swedish people don’t eat McDonalds, they eat MAX.”

We left the bar and passed an all but empty McDonalds save for a few foreign tourists. What is MAX? I asked. ‘It’s like McDonalds, but better in every way.’

She was right of course.

We approached the bustling Scandianavian burger franchise. Being unfamiliar with the line-up and the language, I randomly tapped the touch screen menu and was happily munching through my quarter pounder within a few minutes.

The burger was delicious as expected.

Herein is the point, it was absolutely like a normal beef burger. The meaty bounce in the texture was there, the translucent grease oozed out when squeezed, the slight red blood colouring was there in the middle, even little white fatty tendons flexed and snapped as they struggled to hold the patty together.

The taste was like any other greasy, salty fast food burger I’ve ever enjoyed after a few pints. This is of course despite the burger being made of entirely 100% plant-based ingredients.

I put it down to fluke and taste buds dulled by strong Nordic beer, and so I went back the following day to put it to the test in the cold light of day.

I needn’t have bothered: it was a beef burger in everything but origin.

Insatiated, I ordered the ‘no-chicken’ chicken burger. The breaded ‘breast’ fillet with mayonnaise and ice-burg lettuce was as good as any I have tried, and I’ve tried more than my fair share.

Vegetarian burgers are not necessarily a new invention, nor are poor meat substitutes, but the new Swedish MAX burger is a revolution in food technology.

Their latest self-developed range, made from soya extracts enhanced with protein enzymes, only went on sale less than three months ago but already accounts for a whopping 40% of their burger sales.

They expect it to surpass 50% by 2022, and the future of the chain is looking meat free.

MAX’s sales already outperform McDonalds and Burger King in Sweden, and have recently opened branches in Norway, Denmark and the UAE.

The accountants standing over empty shop floors at rival fast food joints are sure to have noticed this trend and if they don’t join them soon, they are sure to be beaten by them.

The bottom line is that this breakthrough in ‘non-meat’ technology can easily fool lifelong meat lovers like myself, and do so at a cheaper price than their meaty alternative.

Add to this the fact that they will inevitably ease the carbon conscious and ethical guilt of consumers and we have the perfect recipe for a fake burger takeover.

This most recent of Scandinavian innovations may not yet threaten the high-end steak market that grass-fed Irish farmers pride themselves on, but sure as the rise of cheap synthetic fabrics devastated the cotton industry leaving cities like Manchester high and dry, the meat industry seems destined to have the feet pulled out from under it.

When the mass market demand for beef declines globally, there will only be room for a small number of niche high-end producers to fulfill local market demands.

Whether we like it or not, this seems inevitable not just in the long term, but potentially within the next decade.

Whilst we fret and worry about losing one beef market due to Brexit, the Swedes are quietly ensuring that the rest of the global beef market is being sent to the slaughter.

And who can blame them?

The steaks are just too high.

Pics: MAX

Listen back to Morning Ireland report in full here


In the last few years, Dublin has become one of the world’s 10 most expensive places to rent, ahead of cities like Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore.

Deutsche Bank reported in May that typical rent for a midrange, two-bedroom apartment in Dublin was $2,018 a month, 23 percent more than in 2014 — the biggest increase of any city in the top tier.

…“You have a generation being locked out of the Irish social contract,” said Rory Hearne, a lecturer in the sociology of housing at Maynooth University.

“A lot of young people are now realizing they will never own their own home, and that is a particularly terrible outlook when you live in a country where a house is usually your main asset for retirement.”

…The Irish division of Savills, an international property company, predicts that rents will increase an additional 17 percent over the next three years.

…It now costs far more to rent than to pay off a mortgage. The property website daft.ie recently reported that the monthly mortgage payment on a two-bedroom house in the city of Cork would be about $700, but the same house would cost almost $1,300 to rent.

Home prices have rebounded since the recession, but homeownership has not, in part because people paying high rents often cannot save for down payments.

To curb dangerous lending and borrowing, the Central Bank of Ireland in 2015 capped mortgage loans at about 3.5 times the buyer’s annual income, but the median price is about 5.6 times earnings.

Housing Crisis Grips Ireland a Decade After Property Bubble Burst (New York Times)


This morning.

The European Parliament published its first results of its post-election Eurobarometer survey.

Asked if “taking everything into account, would you say that Ireland has on balance benefited or not from being a member of the EU?”, 89 per cent of Irish respondents said “yes” – 21 per cent more than the EU average.

The programming really works.


The survey can be read in full here

This afternoon.

Glencree and Powerscourt County Wicklow.

More as we get it.



Earlier: Meanwhile, In Powerscourt

From top: the offending article in The Spectator; Ireland’s UK ambassador Adrian O’Neill and his letter to the magazine’s editor

Last night.

A diplomatic response to ‘ cheese-eating surrender monkey’ accusations leveled at Ireland in The Spectator by the suitably-named, Robert Hardman.

To wit:

Hardman said that Ireland was joining a group of “flimsily-connected” countries with “deplorable human rights records” and “French-speaking crooks”, some of whom, he added, appeared “at the bottom of every global corruption index”.

“Only the mean-spirited would suggest that little Leo will do anything to suck up to the top gang in the EU playground…,” he continued.

How odd, then, to see the Irish — usually so quick to take offence at any whiff of imperialism — acting as a cheerleader for French aggrandisement.”

Ireland’s strange decision to join the French commonwealth (Robert Hardman, The Spectator – behind paywall)

Magazine criticised by ambassador for “anti-Irish sentiment” (The Irish World)

Previously: A Mere Spectator