Supply and demand issues probed

The subject of import substitution was a big focus at the relaunch of the Ornamentals Round Table action plan at Parliament last week. But UK plant buyers are saying growers have cut production in the UK, meaning buyers often have to look overseas for plants.

Planterias: import substitution emerged as big focus as the Ornamentals Round Table action plan was relaunched - image: HW
Planterias: import substitution emerged as big focus as the Ornamentals Round Table action plan was relaunched - image: HW

Ben Reid Garden Centre managing director Simon Fraser said: "My perception as a buyer is that nurseries are clever on their market and are producing for that effectively. As a small nurseryman we don't overproduce. My perception from dealing with big growers is if you don't take it when it's available it won't be there if you want to pick it up a week later.

"In Scotland we have a different climate so we might not want it until later. That means we have to look across the North Sea to Holland. Good nurseries are being very sharp and commercial, and are looking at their customer base. They have to because their margins are so tight."

Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar said: "The Dutch system is about free stock availability. Reserve orders freak them out - they don't like it because they don't like the risk. You have to hang on to it even if you don't take it."

He added: "It is an issue and we've talked about it here. Do you speculate on stock on the off-chance the retailers will want it? If they don't, you're stuck. In Holland they have fairs and auctions, though they see selling off at auction as a place of last resort. I don't necessarily think we should have them, though they would encourage people to grow more free stock.

"It's a balance between supply and demand. Last spring was frustrating because we had more demand than we had stock. We have 5,000sq m more production this year and we're building 5,000sq m more, but we've tried to reserve it all."

WD Smith & Son managing director Mike Smith said: "When the weather is good there is not enough and when the weather is bad there is more than enough. As a bedding nursery, we don't get panicked."

Glendoick Garden Centre director Ken Cox said: "The big wholesale nurseries used to grow and see who snaps it up, but now nurseries want it all booked and planned to cut wastage. "For instance, viburnums. There's a lot of Phytophthora ramorum in Holland and I was anxious to make sure viburnum I bought was free from it, but growers down south in England had bought them in Holland to grow on in their nurseries.

With Astible, all the growers just have 'Unique' because that tissue culture liner is available, so when people specify 'Fanal' there's none available. John Woods did Country Roses from Kordes but they've gone and I can't get them anymore."

"But with some plants there are a lot available - heathers, agapanthus, lavender, hydrangeas - so ranges in certain areas are staggering, but in others such as rhododendrons there are only small ranges and the varieties are not ones I'd recommend."

Monkton Elm plant manager Andrew Pitman said: "There are certain plants that the English market doesn't grow. To get plants from the Dutch is a lot easier than it has ever been because minimum deliveries were higher and lead times were longer. They want your business and they are very competitive on certain lines. European growers will fly you out and provide a hotel while UK growers wouldn't provide a train fare."

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Pots and containers

Pots and containers

Superior propagation products can justify extra expenditure by providing precise cell fill, optimum root development and healthy plugs, writes Sally Drury.

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

How can horticulture businesses respond to Brexit-fuelled inflation? Neville Stein outlines the options.

Garden centre profile: Mappleborough Green Garden Centre

Garden centre profile: Mappleborough Green Garden Centre

Phase two of the redevelopment of the former Badger Nurseries has delivered rapid and impressive results, Matthew Appleby discovers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Garden retail Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. NEW: 2016 listing just published

Garden Centre Prices

GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 21 September 2016
GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 24 August 2016

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here