Presented by Southern Trident Southern Trident

Horticulture Week Podcast: peat-free growing media - products, supply, demand and prices - with Southern Trident's Steve Harper

Steve Harper and Matthew Appleby
Steve Harper and Matthew Appleby

Southern Trident CEO Steve Harper says the coir growing media company is to revamp its Coco and Coir brand and launching a new brand called Harmony Gardens at Glee in September.

This comes in an environment where peat-reduction is a big issue. 

In 2020, peat-free retail sales rose from 123,000 cubic metres to 537,000 cubic metres including 158k of coir. However peat-based sales were up too.

Harper (ex-William Sinclair and Bord na Móna) said he expects growing media prices will be going up 10-20% in 2022 because of a lack of supply of peat, especially with Irish harvesting all but over, and competition from other industries for alternative materials, though there is enough coir around.

The Government's peat consultation this autumn is set to end retail peat sales by 2024. "No-one disagrees we need to stop using it...the only problem is access to raw materials."

The other challenge for peat-free compost retailers is how to persuade more of the general public of why they should pay more to reduce peat extraction:

"It's been interesting talking to consumers about the whole peat debate and they really don't understand it...clearly there are a percentage of more environmentally-minded consumers that do, but the vast majority don't."

The Responsible Sourcing Scheme traffic light symbols will be on most manufacturers' bags by 2022. The RSS measures choice of growing media materials impacts on seven criteria:

  • energy use
  • water use
  • social compliance
  • habitat and biodiversity
  • pollution
  • renewability
  • resource use efficiency

Meanwhile Southern Trident has 66 new launches for 2022, to add to the current 66-strong product range. There is a bagged growing media launch and existing packaging is being refreshed.

The Harmony range is the first carbon neutral growing media range. Southern Trident worked out the carbon footprint of transport from India and all other inputs and is offsetting this via an Indian carbon capture project for wood, food and coconut waste. The Harmony range includes a multipurpose compost, soil improver with added nitrogen, growbag and topsoil.

With retailers currently stocking Southern Trident including 50 Homebases and hundreds of garden centres, including Dobbies, Squires, Klondyke and Hillier, Harper hopes for a trebling or quadrupling of retail sales in 2022.

The company has found the compact products and eco-friendly message particularly suited to city garden centres, including Little Dobbies and Forest Hill's Shannons. Products are Soil Association accredited.

Subscription garden retailers such as www.potgang.co.ukwww.boxandsprout.com and www.sowfesh.com are also customers.

For more information go to https://southerntrident.com/

Podcast presenter: HW editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: HW digital content manager, Christina Taylor

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