Floranova takes advantage of boom in vegetables market

British-bred "patio vegetables" are proving a hit all over the world, boosted by their appearance at the Dutch Flower Trials.

Norfolk-based Floranova launched its Vegetalis brand as a standalone company last year. At the Dutch event, marketing manager Ralph Cockburn said: "It's now worldwide, supplying to the USA, Australia, Japan, and all the way through Europe to Turkey."

The success is in contrast with the bedding market, which he described as "stationary". "We were lucky that we went into vegetables just when it went 'boom'," he said. "Everyone has a vegetable range these days, but very few companies are breeding specifically for the consumer market."

The company has been promoting innovative ways to show the F1 vegetable range. Cockburn explained. "You can put them into mixed planters - why not have four Petunia and a chilli or a tomato? Or grow them in hanging baskets? Customers are already used to looking after those. That idea is grabbing people."

The company took on product manager Jim Juby solely to handle Vegetalis at the end of last year. He said: "The multiple retailers have also been here, so they know what to ask their suppliers for."

Cockburn was more than happy with the outcome of the show. "We had 250 people on the first day and 400 on the second, from as far afield as New Zealand, as well as our big UK customers."

The view was echoed by other exhibitors. According to Benary's UK representative David Wales: "We expect visitor numbers to be 50 per cent up on last year. We've had people in from every corner of the world - growers, agents and retailers, including the big British ones."

Thompson & Morgan head of wholesale Nigel Judd also reported a successful show. "We will now have contacts in countries that we would never have visited, or even knew existed," he said.

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