Christmas tree fair eases anxieties

The recent Langeso festival in Denmark has helped growers see the full picture of the post-Brexit market, according to Snowbird Industries owner Adrian Morgan.

Imports could have impact on Christmas tree prices
Imports could have impact on Christmas tree prices

Expected numbers at the Danish Christmas tree market trade fair, which is now in its 25th year, were reaching 3,000. Morgan said it "will hopefully ease some of the anxiety surrounding the burning questions of price expectations", adding: "It will help to show that the quality of the current season is in a good condition."

With around 60 million Christmas trees being grown in Europe the import market may slightly affect price, but Morgan said he believes the Danish "may hold their usual prices".

"Quality is king in the UK" and "this season's stock is on the whole in good condition", he said. He added that 2m-plus stock will continue to be scarce so could drive up the price for taller trees. Those retailers yet to buy their netting will have to deal with the price increase caused by the exchange rate fluctuations but Morgan does not believe that labour will affect price because "there is free movement and tree gangs are happy to follow the work".

Sarah Flamson from Cadeby Tree Trust said prices for UK-grown trees will probably remain stable and "any price increase will come from imported trees". She added: "There will be an immediate effect on prices for imported trees and some wholesalers will take advantage of this by raising their own prices.

"Our price would only be affected if we struggle to employ our usually European workforce during the harvest season, but we are expecting normal pricing. On the other side for us we also own a company that sells Christmas tree stands and netting, which are mainly imported goods. This in turn means that nearly all its prices will rise."

For the future in 2017, both Morgan and Flamson said it is far too early to know. Flamson said consumers and garden centres are buying earlier and "this is not good for the needle retention of the trees, especially if they aren't stored correctly or are transported long distances". She said slimmer trees are more popular as modern housing reduces the size available.

Jadecliff owner Sadie Lynes said "British trees will have no problem with price changes" but "imported trees will have a higher price". She warned: "People will have to be careful that if they are paying for a premium tree that is what they are receiving. In past years what has happened has been a greying over the edges of quality with standards being sold as premiums."

She added: "There have been comments that the warm-wet-warm weather pattern has been having an effect on leader growth, creating longer leaders that growers had to work to control."

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association is holding its annual competition and open day at Poundffald Farm in West Glamorgan on 26 October. The winning tree and wreath are displayed at 10 Downing Street.

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