Growers react to ban on Chinese Acer imports

The European Standing Committee on Plant Health's decision to ban the import of Chinese grown Japanese Maples has been welcomed by the industry.

Norfield Nurseries is a specialist Acer grower and owner Steve Penrose said he was delighted at the news.

He explained:  "It is great for us because we don't import at all and it's about time we had a little bit of luck.  One of our major problems has been competing with the sheds that bring Acers in cheaply from Holland, where they are imported from China. Its been appalling watching what the DIYs and supermarkets have done, it could have broken us over the last few years so I would imagine the ban will give them some problems, unless they try to circumvent it somehow."

Burncoose Nurseries sell acers imported from New Zealand

Owner Charles Williams said:  "It will have an impact on the big DIYs and the multiples who stock the cheap stuff but I don't think it will have an effect on us.  I think there are so many interesting new varieties that people are going to be interested in Acers for years to come."
Bays nursery and Acer Centre director Nigel Mann said:  "All our stock comes from New Zealand and they are selling very well; the less competition there is the better I suppose.  With all the problems in the Netherlands and all this sort of stuff our Acers have sold better this year than last year.  The last three weeks have been very good; I'm guessing our sales are 50 per cent better than last year."

Adrian Ayley is the European agent for Stepping Stones, one of the two large exporters of New Zealand grown Acers.

He welcomed the move, both as a boost to his business and as a sign that plant health issues were being put ahead of commercial concerns.

But he warned that the market value of Acers might be affected.

"Generally New Zealand grown Acers are anything from 10-15 times the price of a Chinese grown plant so it is going to come at a higher cost. But until the Chinese came in, Acers had always fetched a higher price. The Chinese stock had devalued what was a high value stock, and it has become seen as a cheaper product.  I suspect this will put paid to that and we will see a higher quality and higher value product coming into the market place."

Hillier Nurseries managing director Andy McIndoe denied that the move would affect demand, even if prices did rise.

He said:  "I don't think it will affect demand because they are a very popular plant.  I think it is a good thing that there won't be a lot of the cheaper stuff out there but is a special plant and its not that price sensitive."

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