Dutch tree growers are aiming to increase their share of the UK market where they say demand is outstripping supply.
Van den Oever managing director Harm Horlings said he expected to increase exports to the UK from seven per cent to 10-15 per cent in the next two years: “Business to the UK has become the biggest market in the Netherlands.”
He said prices were level across Europe but production is lower in the UK than Germany, where it meets 90 per cent of demand. He added that the German market is stable but nursery production is at too high a level. Exports from the Netherlands to Germany were 12 per cent down in 2005.
Horlings added: “In the UK, production does not fulfil demand. We can be more competitive on price.” He said high-quality marketing and research helped the Netherlands keep ahead, adding: “It has become a habit to buy from us.”
“If someone in England was going to do it for themselves, they could take over [the UK market]. That is possible. But Notcutts stopped tree production, so I don’t think it’s a big danger.”
Van den Berk UK and Ireland export manager Jan van Vechel said growing big trees was too risky for UK companies. He said exports from the 280ha nursery to the UK were up to 15 per cent from 11-12 per cent last year.
Huverba assistant manager Hans Timmers said export to the UK was now 25 per cent of his company’s production.
Barcham Trees managing director Mike Glover said: “We’re doing our best to meet demand, but many nurseries concentrate on too many things. Trees are complex to grow. It takes a lot of planning.”
Hillier chairman John Hillier said Dutch growers undercut British growers. He added: “Since East and West Germany joined money is tight there. They cut planting big trees along motorways but still have them to sell.”
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