Brexit effect dominates debates at ornamentals trade events

Importers bullish despite supermarkets scoping market for British cut flowers.

While figures from Holland suggest an 11%-plus slowdown in nursery imports, and with supermarkets scoping the market for British-grown cut flowers, importers are saying sales remain strong and 2017 still looks to be a promising season.

The effect of Brexit has been at the forefront of conversations at the January round of trade events held by the HTA, British Protected Ornamentals Association and Garden Centre Association as well as at IPM Essen.

Taylor's Bulbs director and incoming HTA president (from September 2017) Adam Taylor says the political effect of Brexit will be much more long-term than just what happens this year. "All you can do is try and work in the environment you've got now. It's an unknown scenario in two-and-a-half or three years' time. Changes in regulations are going to be the big difference." The euro is now worth around £1.16 compared with £1.40 before the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016.

Last month prime minister Theresa May said the UK will leave the EU single market, which allows free movement of goods, services and workers between its members and makes trade agreements with individual countries. Taylor adds: "Exchange rates have an impact, of course, but we're low cost base product and grow in the UK as well as importing from Europe."

Growing model

Taylor's Bulbs grows daffodils in the Holbeach area of Lincolnshire and used to grow tulips many years ago, but Taylor says: "There's no way we're changing our growing model based on one year." Tulip and crocus costs will be up this year but overseas competition is going to see a greater impact because all their costs are in euros, he explains.

One supermarket is known to have approached a large fruit and vegetable grower to see whether it can expand into competitively priced commercial UK gladioli growing, so the supermarket can beat Brexit price rises from the continent.

Royal FloraHolland has said plant imports to the UK are down 11% since the vote, while at the recent HTA Contact conference Dutch grower and Anthos board member Jan De Vries said the UK "can't do without Europe" regarding plant imports, adding that a "new form of free trade (agreement) will certainly come about", not least because 25% of Dutch production is going to the UK. But he said trade agreements "will be focused on plant health", which he suggested could be protectionist.

Dutch publication Financieele Dagblad says cut flower sales to the UK declined by 14% in December. One-third of chrysanthemums exports head to Britain.

From the biggest European nursery show, IPM Essen, Plants for Europe's Graham Spencer reports that the "main topic is impact of Brexit, particularly ongoing uncertainty about impact on PVR and plant health, and also labour. Essen was generally optimistic in spite of wider uncertainty in the world. Uncertainty with Brexit is the bigger issue than what's actually going to happen. People can plan for something if they see what's coming in."

At nursery open days for garden centre customers this month, such as at Hillier and Burston, retailers were out in force looking for British-grown product. Fosseway Garden Centre owner Tim Godwin, speaking at Hillier's open day, said: "We have always bought British but when the Italian thing came about we were all traipsing to Italy and buying plants from 2007-09. But that fell away and we've not really been back. We just saw an opportunity in Italy with the euro against the pound and that's where things have changed." He adds that plant health issues such as Xylella also now cause him concern with importing.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How did ornamentals production fare in 2016?

How did ornamentals production fare in 2016?

Survey highlights growing importance of ensuring profitability in uncertain times.

Ornamentals fertilisers

Ornamentals fertilisers

Manufacturers are developing new ways for growers to manage crop inputs while reducing reliance on pesticides, Sally Drury reports.

Career profile - Production manager

Career profile - Production manager

A production manager's main responsibility is to ensure that the glasshouse, nursery or farm produces a bountiful and consistently high-quality crop for people to enjoy.

Seabrook On... Sensible pricing levels

Seabrook On... Sensible pricing levels

One of the big retail chains has flower seeds on sale at 25p a packet, while one of the specialist mail-order companies has six nigella plants on offer at £15 plus £4.95 carriage charges.

Production stars take innovation lead at UK Grower Awards and Garden Retail Awards

Production stars take innovation lead at UK Grower Awards and Garden Retail Awards

Over the past week it has been the great privilege of the Horticulture Week team to welcome more than 700 leading horticulture professionals to three great industry events - the Garden Retail Awards 2017, the UK Grower Awards 2017 and the third Garden Retail Summit, all hosted by Horticulture Week.

UK Grower Awards winners demonstrate exceptional talent

UK Grower Awards winners demonstrate exceptional talent

Welcome to this special presentation of the achievements of the outstanding winners of the UK Grower Awards 2017.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.