British-grown cut flowers call

The 'abysmal' position of the cut-flowers market in the UK is ripe for an upturn, says Gill Hodgson.

Exciting times: the great British flower market seeks cohesion - image: Julian Winslow
Exciting times: the great British flower market seeks cohesion - image: Julian Winslow

Great British Flower Seminar organiser Gill Hodgson says a national body for cut-flower growers could revive the sector.

Flowers from the Farm owner Hodgson said at the seminar that the industry had gone from a strong position to one that is "abysmal" in recent decades. Now just 10 per cent of cut flowers bought in the UK are UK-grown.

But she added: "We could also look on that as an opportunity. If we had 70 per cent market share, 72 per cent would be difficult. So going from 10-20 per cent is possible. It's exciting times. People are asking for British-grown cut flowers. All the positive things that people already recognise in great British food, we can do in flowers."

She said schemes such as the Renewable Heat Initiative were making glasshouse-grown flowers more possible, and new flower breeding as interesting florists: "It's the right time for more cohesion."

She said a marketing body was a possibility to promote British-grown flowers so they are used at state and sporting events, and on floristry courses at colleges.

But she said big growers don't need to spend on promotion, because they sell direct to supermarkets, the HDC was a research and development body and was not there for promotion, and that the Flowers & Plants Association could not sustain its role after funding ended.

Supermarkets including Waitrose, M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Booths and Aldi attended.

Lyndon Mason from the HDC National Cut Flower Centre spoke on behalf of commercial growers.

New Covent Garden Market and Defra also spoke. Sue Lamb, Winchester Growers and Matthew Naylor are among the commercial growers who attended. Butters, BPOA and HTA were represented too.

New Covent Garden Market held National Cut Flower Week from 16-20 June, promoting a different florist and flower daily.

The UK cut flower market is valued at about £1.75bn.

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