Horti Fair exhibitors look to eco-ranges to boost sales

Sustainability, no longer a mere buzzword, may provide horticulture with a chance to prosper, judging by the views of exhibitors at this year's Horti Fair, held last week in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Around 35 stands promoted new products under the sustainability heading, while artificial fertilisers and crop protection chemicals were by contrast largely absent.

UK plant nutrition supplier Hortifeeds area manager John Crinall said: "There's been a lot of interest in our organic range. People are always looking for certified products, given the restrictions and costs of conventional products."

Belgian integrated pest management (IPM) supplier Biobest's technical adviser Paco Lozano-Rubio said that quality labels were a big driver in the growth in IPM. "It's one of the requirements of many labels," he said. "Globally, public awareness of food safety and the environment is also having an effect. There are big opportunities in glasshouse and open-field IPM products."

Glasshouse kit manufacturer Spuitrobot's managing director Eric Gerritsma added: "Companies like Tesco are very strict about chemicals, and also the laws in the Netherlands get tighter every year."

Sustainability was the main theme of the "Be Aware, Get Better" retail promotion, overall winner of the show's Innovation Award. FloraHolland product developer Peter van der Voort said: "A plant on its own is not enough any more - you need to market it and that means telling a story. But the consumer should still have the choice whether or not to buy a sustainable product."

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