Flower growers make British-grown call

NFU horticulture adviser Amy Gray and florists Simon Lycett and Shane Connolly spoke at the workshop to 14 growers from across the country

The workshop took place at florist Simon Lycett’s studio in London with Naylors Flowers, Fieldhouse Flowers and Lambs Flowers among the growers in attendance.

They spoke about what the events floristry sector requires from growers and how they can meet rising demand for British flowers. They also discussed ways of strengthening the British cut flower sector, beginning to build on the asks laid out in the NFU’s 2016 Backing British Blooms report.

Lycett told cut flower growers that they need to connect the public with seasonal British flowers in the same way they have connected with local food to strengthen their sector.

The workshop aimed to open a dialogue between growers and the industry and started work on an action plan to achieve the principles laid out in the report.

The NFU is calling for improved provenance labelling of cut flowers in retailers and florists to enable the public to greater recognise which flowers are home-grown.

Gray said: "I tried to invite a broad range of growers from around the country of different scales/products as I could to provide a variety of insights to the meeting.  We had some of the country’s larger growers, such as Sue Lamb, Matthew Naylor and James Cole, to a handful of smaller grower representatives from Flowers from the Farm. There was also Helen Evans from NCGMA and Lyndon from the Cut Flower Centre.

"It was a very insightful meeting which explored in detail some of the challenges facing the sector. Attendees shared some of the barriers that they have experienced in their businesses that makes increasing the profile and availability of British cut flowers to the buying public difficult. The group then debated possible opportunities to consider in tackling these issues.

"Some of the key areas discussed included provenance labelling, transport issues/considerations, rising cost of inputs, marketing potential, the need for consumer education, challenges due to differences in product criteria depending on the market, the need to empower florists to use more British.

"To have such a range of experience and knowledge in the room was a real asset and I was thrilled to be able to start this important conversation on a more open forum. I know that everyone in the room was very passionate about the prospect of increasing the profile of British cut flowers and we will continue to work together to develop the steps that are needed to move the industry in a more productive and prosperous direction."  

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: "It is so important that the public are aware of which flowers are grown in Britain and improved labelling in supermarkets and florists would give them the information they need to make informed choices.

"Opening a dialogue within the industry to continue working to grow the fantastic British cut flower market is crucial and building a strong network will only benefit growers.

"Our Backing British Blooms report laid out the opportunities available for cut flowers as a surge in public demand makes it increasingly competitive and desirable. The time to take ­­back some of the market has never been better and secure the revival of the British cut flower industry."

Lycett told growers that increasing the co-operative mindset that is proven to work in the Dutch flower market will continue to strengthen the British market.

He said: "I am passionate about British flowers and floristry and its unique, scarce and rare qualities need to be greater utilised and more highly regarded. The whole industry is aiming in the same direction and coming together will help to strengthen and increase the sector.

"We need to work together to make the flower-buying public more aware of seasonal, British-grown flowers in the same way they seem to have connected with the local and seasonal elements of food buying.

"Florists in the market want the biggest and the most magnificent – which is exactly what British producers can provide. Working together to discover how to market these products to reach those people and connecting to the supply chain will help to promote British, seasonal flowers."

UK production is 10% of sales, recent reports have found.

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