Chemicals and fertilisers for retail - Prosperous market

New products, updated application methods and helpful weather have all contributed to an improved market, Matthew Appleby finds.

Chemicals and fertilisers: consumers were increasingly using garden chemicals in the first six months of this year - image: HW
Chemicals and fertilisers: consumers were increasingly using garden chemicals in the first six months of this year - image: HW

The fertiliser and chemical market prospered once again this year, with weather conditions helping sales. New organic and mycorrhizal products have come into the market, while new methods of application have also been launched.

In the first six months of this year, consumers were also increasingly using garden chemicals such as plant protection, fertilisers and growing media Europe-wide, according to market analyst GfK. This segment grew by 15 per cent, which equates to a sales value of EUR1.36bn.

Big players in the market are increasing promotional spend to help garden centres. Scotts and Westland have simplified the number of brand names they use. Scotts is now calling Pathclear by the brand name Weedol, for example.

At Glee, Scotts Miracle Gro launched EverGreen Extreme Green Lawn Food, a new concentrated liquid lawn food with a high nitrogen content. RRP is £6.99.

The new Scotts Weedol Power Sprayer (left) is a battery operated applicator for Weedol weedkillers. It is supplied with five-litre products of Weedol Gun! Rootkill Plus, Weedol PS Pathclear Weedkiller and the new Weedol Gun! Ultra Tough Weedkiller.

Scotts consumer research shows 54 per cent saying it exceeds expectations and 85 per cent say it meets or exceeds expectations. When launched in the USA, the Power Sprayer increased large-bottle sales of Scotts-branded weedkillers by 118 per cent. RRP is £27.49-£28.49.

In addition, Scotts has also launched Miracle-Gro Magic Start Double Action Planting Mix, a hybrid of feed and compost in one.

Westland has launched Gro-Sure Easy Containers Compost in the Gro-Sure range, which now covers more of the company's growing products. Tomato growing is a big focus for 2015 with Gro-Sure Tomato Easy Feed (right), which contains sticks - two per plant - to push in on opposite sides of each tomato plant to feed for the whole season.

Resolva Liquid Shots have been specifically developed to offer gardeners an easier way to apply concentrated weedkiller. They are pre-dosed with the right amount of weedkiller for a 10-litre watering can. Meanwhile, Resolva 24H Power Pump (right) is designed for controlling large areas of weeds with a five-litre pack.

A new brand is Seramis, Europe's leading orchid brand that Westland bought from Mars this year. There are products including Orchid Feed and Revitalising Leaf Spray in the range.

Meanwhile, RHS principal horticulture adviser Leigh Hunt says pear rust has established itself "in earnest" the UK after being around for a decade. "Pear rust is now very ubiquitous but a lot of people are only now realising it has affected their pear trees for the first time," he adds.

With the withdrawal of Westland's Plant Rescue Fungus Control concentrate from 30 June, Bayer's Garden Systhane Fungus Fighter Concentrate is recommended by the RHS, says Hunt.

Box blight is another plant disease that a Bayer product might be used to fight, Hunt suggests. That product is Bayer's new Fungus Fighter.

Bayer has also launched a range of Baby Bio outdoor products for the first time. The brand, which has 59 per cent of the market, will be in a range entitled Vitality Activator Effect in five new products for flowers and edibles, with prices at £7.99 for 750ml aimed at the "creative gardener" category.

Product manager Alison Mulvaney says focus groups asked why Bayer had not extended the Baby Bio brand outside before and found that there was 98 per cent promoted brand recognition for Baby Bio.

She points out that Bayer's previous focus had been on pest and weedkillers but it is now concentrating on a "more rounded portfolio", particularly fertilisers, because of "pressure from regulatory bodies".

Mulvaney argues that neonicotinoid issues, which saw imidicloprid go under a two-year moratorium on use in 2013, are not based on scientific information and were driven by NGO pressure. She adds that if research proves that neonicotinoid is safe to bees: "I hope it gets reinstated."

The weedkiller market was 8.8 per cent up in 2014, while the pest and disease killer market was up 24.5 per cent, comparing January-July 2013 and January-July 2014.

Mulvaney warns that because slugs overwinter, a wet summer would bring them back in big numbers for a third year in succession.

Meanwhile, Sinclair has relaunched its Deadfast weedkiller range, which is set for a share of a £2m promotion, including television advertising.

New Deadfast weedkiller products include a slug killer and a spring television campaign will signal new product development and marketing investment in Sinclair's garden-control brand.

Sinclair is expanding its broad-spectrum glyphosate-based ready-to-use (RTU) range with a new four-litre container of Deadfast Path & Patio Weedkiller (right), which treats up to 240sq m at £14.99 RRP. At the same time, Sinclair is launching a new display quarter pallet of its £4.99 DeadfastWeedkiller one-litre RTU spray, which treats up to 60sq m.

Vitax has extended its Q4 range to include liquids, pellets, granular and soluble fertilisers, along with two that include mycorrhizal fungi. The range is available in everything from small sachets to larger tubs.

Roundup in Netherlands

Monsanto business director Gary Philpotts has said, contrary to some reports, Roundup has not been banned in the Netherlands.

Many global green groups have reported that the Dutch government banned active ingredient glyphosate, but Philpotts maintains that this is incorrect.

"The second chamber in the Netherlands has asked the government to ban glyphosate use by non-professionals for garden use," he says.

"The government has concluded that this is not legal under EU law as the products are approved for use and a ban would be disproportionate to reaching the objective of reducing the use.

"Instead it is planned that some actions will be put in place to reduce use by homeowners, such as safety caps, label changes, more information at point of sale and retail staff training. Also, it is proposed to ban the use of pesticides on hard surfaces from November 2015. The situation will be reviewed at the end of 2016."

Weedkiller market
The weedkiller market in 2014 was split as follows:
Roundup: £19m
Scotts: £12.6m
Westland: £7.3m
Bayer: £4.4m
Own label: £3.1m
Vitax: £0.6m
Growing Success: £0.3m
Others: £2.4m

Neudorff: new products promoted at Glee

Organic controls and fertilisers company Neudorff was promoting new mycorrhiza products at Glee. They were Root Enlarge, which the company says increases the size of the root system by up to 150 times, with ericaceous and soluble versions too. Also being promoted was Sluggo slug killer, Organic Tomato & Vegetable Food, Organic Rose Fertiliser and Organic Lawn Feed & Improver. Sluggo's active ingredient is 10g/kg iron-III phosphate, while the tomato organic compound fertiliser NPK 7-3-10 is made from animal by-products, fermented vegetation residues, organic materials, living microorganisms and mycorrhiza fungi.

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