This was the message from exhibitors at international plant trade fair Plantarium 2008, held in Boskoop, the Netherlands, last week.
Netherlands auction co-operative FloraHolland held its autumn trading fair at the same time and manager of products and market services Floris Olthof said growth would not meet expectations this year. "We will be achieving less than one per cent growth this year and that is a disappointment," he said.
"The Dutch growers have more competition from the growers of South America and Africa and the weather this summer has also affected things."
The euro has been rising against the pound and making products from European growers more expensive in the UK, which Olthof said had also dampened the market. "We don't think the strength of the euro helps us to increase trade," he added. "In the past (few) years trade to the UK was increasing very fast, particularly in cut flowers and pot plants.
"But this year it is not increasing at all and that is down to the (strong) euro against the pound."
Boskoop-based grower Kwekerij Daylight managing director David Bakhuijzen said he agreed the strength of the euro had impacted on trade: "The euro being so strong has affected my trade with the UK - it makes it more expensive but gardening is still a popular thing."
Despite the exchange rate issues, some exhibitors said that high fuel costs were having an even greater impact.
Walter Blom president Walter Blom said: "The euro is very strong but it hasn't really hit us; it is when you deliver the finished product to the UK that it's very expensive."
Partner Susanna van Zoest of Andre van Zoest, which supplies hydrangeas to the UK, said transport costs were extremely high but they were trying to combat the problem by packing more plants onto a trolley.
Plant Publicity Holland managing director Jan Haberts said some growers were trying to become less energy dependent by investing in technology such as ground heat pumps.
He added: "It is short-term thinking when you look at the exchange rate; we need to think creatively."
- See vox pop, p19.