Burpee Seeds looks to the future

Matthew Appleby, Andrew Mellowes, Simon Crawford

This week's Horticulture Week Podcast welcomes Burpee Seeds' sales and marketing director Simon Crawford and commercial director Andrew Mellowes.

Burpee Europe’s focus on the breeding and development of new varieties of vegetables, fruit and flowers for the home gardener market has seen the team enjoy a steady rise in seed sales and has provoked a need for larger premises.

Andrew Mellowes, formerly of Woodlodge and Gardman, is replacing sales and marketing director Simon Crawford who is retiring at the end of 2023.

Mellowes has made the big change to the live products side of horticulture, but after more than 20 years in the industry sees many of the same challenges - no  year is normal and having a reliable supply of product is essential, he says.

However, he agrees that post-Brexit and Covid, 2023 is more likely to be nearer 'normal' than the past three years and is seeing a cautious optimism among customers.

Crawford is BPOA vice chairman and sees supply of peat-free growing media as one of the biggest challenges ahead:

"There's still a long way to go, but finding alternatives to coir and to wood chip to produce good quality reliable substrates is absolutely vital...unless we get good substrates, the industry is going to be threatened, I really do believe that."

Brexit meant Burpee had to set up a Netherlands office so it can export seed. But tougher plant health requirements for imports are a good thing, he says, drought resistance is a focus and blight-resistant tomatoes including new launches Bliss, Toddler and Black Moon. 

Burpee is celebrating its first Fleuroselect gold medal winner, Helianthus Desire Red. Crawford has helped organise the 3-6 July Fleuroselect convention, which will visit RHS Hyde Hall Floral Fantasia, Mr Fothergill's and Floranova.

Presenter: HortWeek editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: HortWeek digital content manager Christina Taylor

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If you are interested in producing a podcast with HortWeek, contact hortweek@haymarket.com.

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