HTA calls for support for UK growers as imports grow

“We need the Westminster… Government to support our industry, as the Dutch Government has done for theirs,” says HTA chairman as UK plant production falls and imports rise.

European stock is available because the Dutch backed their growers with €600m and German and Dutch garden centres remained open through the Corona pandemic.

The recent HTA industry survey shows: -

  • 65% of larger retailers are importing more bedding plants than last year,
  • 72% said that they were currently unable to get the bedding plants their business needs from UK growers,
  • over half of British ornamental growers expect a further downturn in sales from June to August as they have not been able to plant crops during lockdown.

The British Garden Centres group, which has the second largest number of stores in the UK, traditionally sources its plants from growers within the UK and, throughout the year, sources less than 20% from overseas. However, to meet demand in the last month, they have had to turn to Europe for nearly 60% of their plants.

European stock is available because the Dutch their backed growers

The HTA attributes the current availability of European stock  to factors such as early intervention by the Dutch government of €600m to support their industry, allowing confidence to continue growing, and the fact that garden centres in the Netherlands and Germany remained open during lockdown.

In contrast over the last few months the British nursery market disposed of hundreds of tonnes of plants.

We need Westminster to support our industry

HTA chairman James Barnes says, “We need the Westminster and devolved governments to support our industry, as the Dutch Government has done for theirs.

“While imports are always a part of our industry, UK garden centres have a strong track record of sourcing British plants, but the pressures of COVID-19 has forced many to look abroad. Now, more than ever, we need to build domestic production, to provide resilience that comes with a strong UK based horticultural industry.“

The industry plays an essential role in safeguarding plant health as well as strengthening the UK’s biosecurity programme. A strong horticultural sector has been identified as vital to delivering the Government’s 25-year Environmental Plan.  A weakened industry will result in Britain becoming more reliant on imports, which risks letting in devastating pests and diseases that the UK has been committed to keeping at bay, such as Xylella fastidiosa, emerald ash borer and Asian long-horn beetle.

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Here's what others have said...
Stuart,  26 Jun 2020:
...I have to say it's as much about attitude as it is any help. UK suppliers of plants or any goods in my opinion are slow to react and slow to deliver. Ordered from a UK supplier and a German supplier on the same day, German supplier arrived in 2 days, UK supplier 9 days! UK suppliers have been slow to embrace ecommerce and when everyone was shopping online and nurseries were moaning about throwing plants away, the quickest I could get a delivery of plants was 3 weeks!!!

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