1,600 Dutch meat farmers qualify for ‘better life’ trade mark

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Some 1,600 Dutch farmers now rear chickens and pigs under the ‘Beter Leven’ trade-mark, which indicates better living conditions for the animals.

The scheme was launched ten years ago when six poultry farmers gave their hens more room and a covered outdoor space to forage, so qualifying for the trade mark just launched by animal protection group Dierenbescherming.

By 2012 the number of participating farms had reached 800 and now 31 million animals are being reared under ‘better life’ conditions, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday. The trade mark has a three-star system – the more stars the better the way the animals are reared.

Despite the shift to more animal friendly farms, some 2,500 Dutch poultry, pig and other farmers still offer their animals no additional facilities, NOS said. Much of their meat is sent abroad to countries where animal welfare is not as high on the agenda.

‘We are leading the way in the Netherlands, but we are not yet done,’ Niels Dorland of  Dierenbescherming told NOS. ‘We have to keep on going because 2,500 is still far too many.’

Supermarkets

Earlier this month, animal rights lobby group Wakker Dier said supermarkets are still not doing enough to encourage the sale of chicken with a quality label and some are selling more of the cheapest meat to produce.

The organisation conducted a random test among 12 big supermarket chains and found that two thirds of chicken products did not have any form of quality label. ‘That means supermarkets are promoting the sale of chickens raised in the poorest circumstances,’ a Wakker Dier spokesperson said.

Almost 30% of chicken products now have some form of quality label, up seven percentage points compared to last year. But given that last year’s increase was 25%, this year’s figures are not good news, the organisation said.

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Chip machinery maker ASML steps up R&D expenditure

Chip machinery maker ASML is stepping up its annual research and development expenditure after the striking success of its new EUV chip machines, the Veldhoven-based company told the Financieele Dagblad on Thursday.

Development of the ‘extreme ultraviolet lithography’ machines took several years and cost millions of euros but the company has delivered three EUV machines in the past three months, bringing total sales to six for the year.  In addition, it has orders for 23 more advanced EUV machines which sell for €100m each.

ASML plans to invest €1.5bn on R&D this year and this is expected to increase in the future, CFO Wolfgang Nickl told the paper. ASML is working on further development of EUV technology whereby chips will be printed by an ultraviolet beam.

ASML booked revenues of €557m in the third quarter of 2017, well up on €397m in the year-earlier period. Turnover rose to €2.45 bn (€2.21bn). The order book for 2018 stands at €5.7bn. ASML has the largest corporate R&D expenditure in the Netherlands.

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Government to take no action over pensioners who are refused mortgages

Dutch financial sector regulator AFM is not going to investigate whether seniors are correctly refused a mortgage loan, caretaker home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk has told parliament.

Plasterk was replying to MPs questions about the obstacles older people face in obtaining a mortgage.

Seniors who move house or undertake major work on their existing home are often refused a new mortgage because their income is inadequate, even though their monthly outgoings may be lower or the mortgage is only a small proportion of the value of the property.

‘There is no requirement on loan providers to extend a mortgage or to make use of the exceptions in the current rules for mortgages,’ Plasterk said.

In addition, some mortgage providers have standardised their procedures, making it more difficult to offer tailor-made solutions for people who do not meet the standard requirements, the minister said.

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Tesco stocks green satsumas in drive to reduce food waste | Business

Tesco has started selling “green” satsumas and clementines after relaxing its quality specifications in its latest attempt to reduce food waste.

The flesh inside is orange, ripe and edible, but as a result of recent warm weather in Spain the skins have failed to turn the normal colour.

By selling the so-called easy-peelers with green skins that resemble limes, the supermarket says it will slash food waste by giving them up to two days’ extra shelf life.

Green satsumas are already in the shops and clementines – a Christmas favourite – will follow shortly. Tesco claims to be the first supermarket to relax the rules on this type of fruit.

“At the moment green easy-peelers fall outside of the general quality specifications set by UK supermarkets but Tesco has made the leading move in order to cut down on food waste,” said Tesco’s citrus buyer, Debbie Lombaard.

“As a result of this move to take out a handling stage in the journey from farm to fork shoppers will gain extra freshness for their satsumas and clementines.”

To accelerate the colouring process, Spanish growers in the Valencia region have been putting the easy-peelers into a ripening room, but this extra handling has led to a small amount of fruit being damaged and going to waste.

Satsumas and other easy-peelers, as well as oranges, initially grow as a green fruit but turn orange as nights cool.

Over the past few years warmer Spanish temperatures in the early growing season for satsumas in September and October have remained higher into the autumn, delaying the natural process by which the fruit turns orange.

Green satsumas on a tree.



Tesco says the green satsumas will help reduce food waste. Photograph: Alamy

Tesco’s “perfectly ripe early season satsumas” come in a 600g net bag and cost the same (£1) as conventional orange-coloured ones. Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, sells nearly 15m 600g bags of satsumas and 75m bags of clementines each year.

Supermarkets have been criticised for contributing to the UK’s food waste mountain by sticking rigidly to quality specifications, and routinely rejecting “ugly” or mis-shapen, but edible, fruit and vegetables grown by suppliers.

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have helped drive a campaign to encourage consumers to be less obsessed with perfection, and for supermarkets to relax their rules to sell more “wonky” carrots and other odd-looking vegetables and fruit.

Last month, Tesco announced plans to join forces with suppliers to tackle global food waste. It has widened other quality specifications to take more of farmers’ crops, most recently with British-grown apples.

The changeable weather in Spain has been a challenge for supermarkets stocking salads and vegetables out of season in the UK. Earlier this year they were forced to ration lettuce and courgettes after snowstorms in Spain ravaged crops.

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Amsterdam electric scooter start-up raises €3m via crowdfunding

Many scooters will be banned from Amsterdam next year. Photo: Depositphotos.com

An Amsterdam-based start-up developing electric city scooters, has managed to attract €3.1m in crowdfunding, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday.

More than 2,500 investors from several European countries took part in the issue though the Seedrs equity platform, raising twice the amount the owners of Bolt had hoped to raise.

The first trial model of the Bolt scooter is expected to come off the VDL production line no earlier than next February. Full-scale production is expected to begin in early 2019 – a year after older mopeds are banned from Amsterdam’s streets.

Bolt co-founder Bart Jacobsz Rosier estimates the market in Europe for the scooters at 800,000. In Amsterdam itself, 77% of scooters and mopeds were built in 2011 or earlier and will be banned from the city’s streets next year.

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A train every 10 minutes proves popular on Amsterdam-Eindhoven route

Image of NS double decker Dutch train sitting in stationPhoto: Depositphotos.com

Travelers have given the thumbs up to the so-called ‘ten minute trains’ on the Amsterdam-Utrecht-Eindhoven service, railway company NS said on Wednesday.

The NS and track operator ProRail are carrying out tests to see if a train every ten minutes will relieve the pressure on the popular route. Currently there is a train every 15 minutes.

After seven of the fourteen test days a poll among travelers shows nine in 10 are happy with the new times – and more seats – while the rest still have to get used to the new schedule.

The test period comes ahead of a permanent schedule change in December when there will be a train between Amsterdam and Eindhoven every ten minutes between 7am and 7pm.

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Most Dutch airports increase their parking fees, Schiphol is most expensive

Parking prices actually fell at Maastricht airport

Parking charges at Dutch airports have risen sharply over the past five years, according to a new survey published by airport information website Vliegveldinfo.

Prices at the two largest airports, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Eindhoven, were the highest. Eindhoven now charges €67 a week, a 34% increase over 2016. Fees were 19% higher at Schiphol where the lowest weekly charge was €95.

Parking charges at Groningen’s Eelde airport and at Maastricht-Aachen airport in southern Limburg province actually fell this year, by 10% and 8% respectively. Parking costs €45 a week in the north and €55 a week at Maastricht.

Rotterdam-The Hague airport raised its parking fees to €57.50  a week, a 5% increase.

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‘World’s first’ 3D printed bike bridge opens in Brabant

Open for business. Photo: Paulien van de Loo /HH

What is being claimed as the world’s first 3D printed bike bridge opened in Gemert, a small town in Noord-Brabant province on Tuesday morning, the AD reported.

Work began on printing the eight-metre long concrete bridge in June and the construction was lowered into position in September.

The bridge, printed in 1cm layers of concrete, is a joint production between students at Eindhoven University of Technology and construction group BAM Infra.

‘With 3D printing, you have more flexibility regarding the shape of the product,’ BAM director Marinus Schimmel said at the start of the project. ‘In addition, 3D printing a bridge is also incredibly efficient.. you need less concrete and there are no CO2 emissions’

The bike bridge is part of a new road project linking the N605 with the N272.

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Re-start of McGregor retail group flops for the second time

Photo: McGregor.com

The problems at the fashion chains McGregor, Gaastra and Adam are so great that new owner Rens van de Schoor has already given up an attempt to rescue the group three weeks after he took over.

The group, which has already twice declared bankruptcy, has a lot of management problems and many suppliers have cut off delivery. ‘It’s really down to the question of whether there will be electricity in the shops tomorrow,’ Van de Schoor told the Financieele Dagblad on Tuesday.

Moreover, the timing of his rescue attempt was misjudged, he said.

The failed rescue attempt means the loss of 400 jobs, 325 of them in the Netherlands. ‘We are going to ask one-third of the staff to stay on on a temporary basis,’ Van de Schoor told the paper.

The FD said it is surprising that ex-banker Van de Schoor has thrown in the towel over McGregor because he rescued many fashion industry retailers in the past, including  Miss Etam, Brantano and Promiss.

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Aegon must pay out on insurance policy in arrears

An insurer must pay an insurance claim even though the customer is in arrears, the financial services complaints tribunal Kifid has ruled in a case filed against Aegon, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday.

The case concerns a man who had insured his car with Aegon in November 2015. Two months later the car was broken into, with damages put at €3,400.

But Aegon refused to pay on the grounds that the customer had not paid the premium for more than 30 days. The insurer’s terms and conditions stipulated that cover could be suspended retroactively if the premium was not paid.

Aegon claimed the customer was uninsured because he had signed the application form for the policy and should be aware of the terms.

The customer denied that he had accepted the terms of the car insurance policy and Kifid’s disputes committee agreed. Aegon was ordered to pay the claim.

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