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Cowen in US business drive

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will today lead a major Irish trade mission in California to push Ireland's new smart economy.

Mr Cowen will meet with senior representatives of leading US multinational companies with successful investments in Ireland before visiting Irish companies who are doing business in the States.

The Taoiseach will then address a major business lunch in Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan is on a four-day trade, investment and promotion mission to Germany.

'Lazy food' sales on rise'

Sales of so-called "lazy food" are increasing, with shoppers spending more on products like boiled eggs and pre-sliced fruit.

Consumers spend an average €69 a year on food that is ready-grated, sliced and chopped, up 14pc over the past 12 months, according to British researchers.

Women spend 10pc more on such products than men, and Scotland appears to be the laziest British region, with consumers spending €82 a year.