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Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Global Hospitality Venue, Food And Drinks News

Published on Dec 28 2021 11:00 AM in General Industry tagged: Trending Posts / Just Eat / Delivery Hero / Coffee and Cocoa Council / Takeaway.com / Just Eat Takeaway.com / Just Eat Takeaway / Foodpanda / CCC

Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Global Hospitality Venue, Food And Drinks News

Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of global hospitality venue, food and drinks news.

Biden Calls On Americans To Vaccinate To Fight Omicron As Europe Braces For "Storm"

Countries across Europe considered new curbs on movement on Tuesday while U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to all Americans to get vaccinated to fight the Omicron variant sweeping the world days before the second Christmas of the pandemic.

Omicron infections are multiplying across Europe, the United States and Asia, including in Japan, where a single cluster of COVID-19 cases at a military base has grown to at least 180.

"If you're not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned," Biden said at the White House, where he unveiled plans to buy 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed for free to Americans who request them starting in January.

Striking a dire tone about the risks to the one in four American adults still unvaccinated, he said: "Your choice can be the difference between life and death."

Biden also activated some 1,000 military medical personnel to support hospitals already being overwhelmed. read more

Omicron now accounts for 73% of all new cases in the United States, up from less than 1% at the beginning of the month.

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's European head, told a news conference in Vienna that within weeks Omicron would dominate in more countries of the region, "pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink."

"We can see another storm coming," Kluge said.

Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among countries to have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures in recent days. read more

Portugal ordered nightclubs and bars to close and told people to work from home for at least two weeks from Saturday.

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland - part of the United Kingdom but with devolved responsibilities for health - set out plans for further restrictions on big public events, including sports fixtures, for three weeks after Christmas.

"It will also mean unfortunately that large scale Hogmanay celebrations, including that planned here in our capital city (Edinburgh), will not proceed," she said, referring to traditional Scottish New Year parties.

New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said his country, which imposed some of the world's toughest COVID-19 measures, was delaying the start of a staggered reopening of its border until the end of February.

"All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible COVID-19 variant yet," he said.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will introduce new steps including limiting private gatherings for vaccinated people to a maximum of 10 before New Year's Eve. Scholz agreed with the premiers of the 16 federal states that big events, including football matches, would be without spectators.

Six-year-old Mara poses for a picture with her "Bravery-certificate" after getting a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a vaccination event for children at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, December 18, 2021.

People wearing masks walk through the City of London, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, December 21, 2021.

Six-year-old Mara poses for a picture with her "Bravery-certificate" after getting a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a vaccination event for children at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, December 18, 2021.

People wearing masks walk through the City of London, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, December 21, 2021.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not introduce new COVID-19 curbs in England before Christmas, but the situation remained extremely difficult and the government might need to act afterwards.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced £1 billion of extra support for businesses hit hardest by Omicron, which is hammering the hospitality sector and other businesses.

Omicron's rapid spread means many Britons are changing Christmas plans last-minute, despite a lack of formal curbs.

Twenty-four-year-old medical student Rebecca Gilmore, who lost her younger brother to suicide earlier in the year, said being apart from her family was especially hard this year but self-isolating with her partner was the right thing to do.

"It means I'm protecting the most vulnerable people," she said.

Sweden will urge all employees to work from home if possible and impose tighter rules for social distancing.

"I understand that many are tired of this - so am I - but we now have a new virus variant, which means we are in a new situation," said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

Omicron has hit financial markets hard in recent days over fears for the global economic recovery, but world shares gained on Tuesday December 21, with the dollar softening as appetite for riskier assets made a cautious return.

Wall Street's main indexes ended sharply higher, rebounding from a coronavirus-fueled rout on Monday December 20.

As of Tuesday December 21, the variant has been confirmed in 106 countries, according to the WHO, after it was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

The severity of illness it causes remains unclear, but the WHO warned it is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease.

Israel recorded its first known death from the Omicron variant, according to Israeli news media which reported that an elderly man died in Beersheba on Monday December 20.

More than 274 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. More than 5.65 million people have died.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1063154666 for a case tracker.

Just Eat Takeaway Secures Another Delivery Deal, With Britain's 'One Stop'

Online food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com said on Wednesday December 22 it has struck a deal with One Stop, a British convenience store chain owned by Tesco, to handle orders and deliveries on its platform.

The deal is the second in a week for Amsterdam-based Takeaway, Europe's largest meals delivery firm, after it announced a similar partnership with Britain's Asda on Dec. 14.

The moves come after Just Eat faced criticism from investors that it had been slow to respond to new competitors entering the grocery delivery sector.

Deliveroo has partnerships with Waitrose, Morrisons and Sainsbury's, while Uber has worked with Shell, Asda and Carrefour in France.

The past year has also seen a flurry of new entrants to European food delivery, including fast grocery delivery firms such as Germany's Gorillas and Turkey's Getir, which bought Britain's Weezy in November. Gorillas announced a trial partnership with Tesco in October. One Stop has 500 stores around Britain.

Meanwhile, U.S. companies are coming to Europe, as DoorDash bought Finland-based deliverer Wolt for $8 billion in November and privately held U.S. firm GoPuff has bought both Dija & Fancy.

Delivery Hero To Shrink Foodpanda Germany, Sell Foodpanda Japan

German food delivery group Delivery Hero said on Wednesday December 22 it would scale down its Foodpanda operations in Germany and sell the subsidiary's Japan unit, citing increased competition and labour shortages.

Delivery Hero said Foodpanda would exit Cologne, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart, though it had only introduced the brand in Cologne, Duesseldorf and Stuttgart a month earlier as part of a broader expansion programme in Germany.

"Facing a very different reality now than we did entering these markets, it is with a heavy heart that we need to pursue other growth opportunities with larger potential," Chief Executive Niklas Oestberg said in a statement.

The meal delivery market, with players including Uber Eats , Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo, is expected to consolidate as the pandemic-related boom starts to wear off and companies look to adjust operations.

At the same time, the European Commission announced draft rules in early December to give employee benefits to riders and drivers for online delivery firms, a move some companies argue will lead to job losses.

Delivery Hero shares were up 6.4% by 0930 GMT on Wednesday December 22.

Delivery Hero, whose operations span more than 50 countries, only started in June with the soft launch of its Foodpanda brand in Berlin and then rolled it out to other cities in August.

That return home brought an abrupt end to a truce struck in late 2018, when Oestberg sold Delivery Hero's German operations to Takeaway.com - its Dutch competitor now known as Just Eat Takeaway (JET) - for $1.1 billion.

The group also said on Wednesday it would exit the market in Japan, which it entered in September 2020, in the first quarter of 2022 to focus on growth in other markets and niches, especially in the area of quick commerce.

Ivory Coast 2021/22 Cocoa Port Arrivals Down 12-13%, CCC Director Says

Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast are down between 12% and 13% from the same period last year and are likely to stay down for the rest of the season, the director general of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) said on Wednesday December 22.

Yves Brahima Kone, who leads the cocoa and coffee regulator, said the season's slow start would likely persist through March, with pods and flowers developing much slower than in previous years following a lacklustre rainy season.

"December is usually the month when most of the cocoa is exported, but arrivals are down 12-13% compared to the same period last year," Kone said told Reuters. "The trend is not going to be reversed."

Ivory Coast is currently in its main October-to-March cocoa crop season, the largest of the West African country's two annual harvests, and December is typically the highest-exporting month.

But port arrival figures at the beginning of the month showed a 10% decline from the same period last season, and exporters estimated this week that production had declined around 8%, based on truck counts.

More than a dozen farmers contacted by Reuters echoed Kone's pessimism, adding the trend would likely worsen as farmers scramble to sell as many beans as possible ahead of the Christmas holiday.

"I am more than worried because I have nothing left on the trees to cut and sell in January. I have already cut everything and there are only a few green pods left," said Alfred Kouadio, who runs a seven-hectare cocoa farm in Daloa.

European Shares Edge Higher As Food-Delivery Stocks Jump

Gains in food-delivery stocks nudged European shares higher on Wednesday December 22, even as investors were anxious about the outlook for global recovery amid a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.

The pan-European STOXX 600 climbed 0.2%, adding to a 1.4% jump in the previous session, which was also its best day in two weeks.

Global markets have been on edge this month as the rapidly spreading Omicron variant pushes some countries to reimpose restrictions, disrupting travel and hampering economic activity.

"There's a lot of treading water going on and waiting for the Omicron storm to hit, as a lot of traders are hanging on to every bit of scientific data around the severity of the new strain," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"It's going to be a very cautious mood for equities, rather than any kind of euphoria, heading into Christmas."

Germany's Delivery Hero jumped 7.6% to the top of the STOXX 600 after saying it would scale down its Foodpanda operations in the country and sell the subsidiary's Japan unit, citing competition and labour shortages.

Just Eat Takeaway.com rose 5.3% after announcing a deal with One Stop, a British convenience store chain owned by Tesco, to handle orders and deliveries on its platform.

Germany is set to introduce new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 before New Year's Eve, including limiting private gatherings for vaccinated people to a maximum of 10 people.

Thin liquidity and subdued risk sentiment have led to volatility in the benchmark in recent days as the possibility of new pandemic curbs threatens economies.

Still, the STOXX 600 is set to end the month 2.5% higher, nearly recouping last month's 2.6% loss.

The biggest boosts to the index this year have been from banks and tech stocks, which have risen 30% and 29%, respectively, compared with the benchmark's 19% rise.

Container shipping giant Maersk inched up 0.1% after agreeing to buy Hong Kong-based LF Logistics for $3.6 billion in an all-cash deal, as it seeks to expand beyond its core ocean freight business.

Norway's Aker BP slipped 3.0% and was at the bottom of the STOXX 600 with Lundin Energy after it announced plans to buy the oil and gas business of the Swedish firm.

Belgian visual tech firm Barco dropped 7.6% after saying component shortages caused delays that affected its third-quarter sales and forecast.

South African Study Offers Omicron Hope As Countries Reimpose Curbs

A South African study offered pre-Christmas good tidings about the severity of Omicron on Wednesday December 22 as the fast-spreading coronavirus variant forces countries across the world to impose new curbs.

Governments urged citizens to vaccinate as Omicron becomes the dominant strain, upending reopening plans that many had hoped would herald the end of the pandemic, and unnerving financial markets.

Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures in recent days.

German health experts said on Wednesday December 22 that new curbs probably did not go far enough as the health minister said he had not ruled out a full lockdown.

Italy is preparing new measures and might make vaccinations obligatory for more categories of workers, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Spain were also considering new curbs.

Omicron was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong. Studies indicate it is more resistant to vaccines developed before it emerged.

However, the South African study suggested that those infected with Omicron were less likely to end up in hospital than those with Delta.

The study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and major universities, which had not been peer-reviewed, compared South African Omicron data from October and November with data about Delta between April and November.

The authors found that the risk of hospital admission was roughly 80% lower for those with Omicron, and that for those in hospital the risk of severe disease was roughly 30% lower.

"In South Africa, this is the epidemiology: Omicron is behaving in a way that is less severe," said Professor Cheryl Cohen of the NICD, one of the authors.

"Compellingly, together our data really suggest a positive story of a reduced severity of Omicron compared to other variants."

Still, the authors included caveats and cautioned against jumping to conclusions. A study by Imperial College London released last week found no sign that Omicron was milder.

Policymakers across the world are scrambling to address the economic blow that might come from new outbreaks; Britain on Tuesday December 21 announced £1 billion of support for businesses hit hardest.

Some 300 South Korean business owners protested in Seoul on Wednesday December 22 against the return of strict social distancing rules, urging the government to scrap its "vaccine pass" policy and compensate them for losses.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed a Health Ministry panel's recommendation that the over 60s, those with compromised immune systems and health workers should receive fourth COVID shots.

But Professor Lawrence Young, virologist at the University of Warwick in England, said it was difficult to justify this "in a situation where around 73% of people in wealthy and middle-income countries have been (fully or partly) vaccinated ... whereas only 12% are vaccinated in Africa".

The Israeli recommendations require approval from the ministry's director-general, and it was not clear when that might happen.

More than 275 million people have been reported to be infected with the coronavirus around the world, and nearly 5.7 million have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in central China in December 2019.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday December 21 promised to distribute half a billion free rapid COVID-19 tests, and warned the quarter of American adults who are unvaccinated that their choices could spell the "difference between life and death".

Japan reported its first suspected case of community transmission of Omicron on Wednesday, while India has urged its federal states to prepare for surges and allowed them to impose restrictions on crowds and gatherings.

Some wealthy countries want to shorten the time between second vaccination shots and boosters, hoping this will reduce the need to burden weary citizens with new lockdowns.

Australia on Wednesday December 22 reported more than 5,000 daily infections for the first time. Prime Minister Scott Morrison nevertheless insisted that strict lockdowns would not be brought back.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1063154666 for a case tracker.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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