Production output looks set to level out

Figures point to levelling-out of ornamental production

Latest figures show that production of ornamentals may have plateaued after a decade of growth. Ornamentals have been top performers in the horticulture sector since 1992, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ 2003 edition of Horticultural Business Data. The data, researched by the University of Reading, found the ornamental sector has increased output by 30 per cent in the past decade, up to £682 million in 2001. Rod Vaughan, head of the agriculture and food investigation team at Reading’s department of agriculture and food — which is part of the school of agriculture policy and development — said ornamentals’ contribution to horticulture rose from 14 per cent in 1992 to over 20 per cent in 2001. He added that the greater potential profits of non-edibles over edibles acted as the driver. However, he said, “hardy nursery stock growth is slowing up” and “potential rises will be small, if at all”. Total planted horticultural areas have shrunk from 282,541ha to 182,462ha in the past 30 years. Non-edibles account for 15,827ha. Prices of flowers and plants have risen by nine per cent since 1995 in the index of producer prices. Seed purchase prices have fallen by 18.9 per cent; fertilisers and growing media by 1.1 per cent and plant protection by 13.7 per cent between 1995-2002, according to the index of purchase prices. Fuel costs rose by 35.1 per cent, labour by 28.2 per cent and machinery by 4.7 per cent. Horticulture had a 14 per cent share of total UK agriculture last year. Horticultural crops marketed in the UK turned over £1,943m.

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