From The Deputy Editor - Supplier showcase at Four Oaks

Because of Brexit shaking up the supply chain, there couldn't be a better time for buyers to attend the Four Oaks Trade show to see how suppliers are reacting to the changes, renew relationships with suppliers old and new and get on top of the latest thinking.

Four Oaks features more than 200 overseas exhibitors, among a sell-out total of 450 overall, so their feeling on Brexit will be worth finding out, particularly on pricing, as well as seeking out a plethora of new plant launches and product innovation.

The industry is adapting to changes Brexit will bring, but knock-on effects are widespread. The 23 June vote came at a good time for the industry at the end of the season, but at events such as the National Plant Show and SOLEX, uncertainty on wholesale pricing was rife. Surveying growers and retailers, the majority said they will raise plant prices for 2017 (see p4). Respondents blamed exchange rates as well as increased costs, pensions and wages. Hopefully, the survey will give suppliers confidence that prices are going up across the board.

There is an upside. UK growers can look at producing more plants, bringing import substitution closer to reality. NFU figures show fruit and vegetable home self-sufficiency has flatlined at about 61 per cent for more than a decade. Cut flower imports remain at 97 per cent but Dutch importers are concerned about pricing and UK producers sense an opportunity. Ornamental stock imports continue to match home production, but that could change.

Boningale chairman Tim Edwards expects Government incentives to increase production, but there will be price rises first. ADAS consultant Andrew Hewson says Brexit will be "liberating" for growers. Another way to beat price rises and boost demand for UK stock is shown by Neame Lea. Its new link with Zyon shows collaboration at its best, cutting costs and increasing demand in the face of outside pressures that no one can alter.

  • Follow the latest news and updates from the show in Horticulture Week's Four Oaks LiveBlog.

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