Growth opportunity for ornamental growers in Eastern Europe identified

Growers must appeal to Eastern European markets and match the supply efficiency of the Dutch if they want to grow their markets, a new HDC/HTA import substitution report suggests.

Improving delivery of service and providing better information on plants for retail buyers, as well as labelling, pricing and producing a wider range of varieties were among suggestions in the report written by HTA market information manager-Dave Denny for HDC project CPM001.

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills could support trade shows in Eastern Europe to build British growers' exports.

Slovenia, for instance, had "real potential", a good gardening climate and good garden ownership, and is starting to get into ornamental horticulture, he added.

The report also said there were opportunities to beat importers to the UK by pricing more competitively and " improving flexibility of ordering".

Curtis Machin said: "The Dutch have been better at getting organised with logistics. If the British are going to compete with the Dutch, we have to get better at deliveries. We produce a cracking product garden centres prefer to foreign imports, but it's about anticipating what's going to be in demand and delivering it."

Ornamental production The facts

- Annual UK ornamental production: £1 billion; with £548m HNS; £242m bedding; £97m herbaceous; £23m edible ornamentals; houseplants £16m; and cut flowers £18m

- Outlets: garden centres £348m; amenity customers £192m; DIY: £134m; and consumers direct £67m.

- Full-time equivalent jobs: 15,000

- Imports ornamental plants: £324m

- Imports of cut flowers: £598m

- Exports: £50m, including 80 per cent HNS & 10 per cent cut flowers

- Import substitution potential job increases: 1,000

- Additional full-time general nursery worker jobs: 1,000

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