HW conference will help UK ornamentals growers to expand their business

Going for Growth: The UK Ornamentals Market Conference, run by Horticulture Week in partnership with Defra, is set to help grow the UK ornamentals industry through investment, people and technology. The event will be held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens on 23 June.

Given changing exchange rates, post-Brexit trading arrangements and tighter biosecurity policies, there is a clear opportunity for the UK ornamentals market to expand and grow. More than 50% of plants sold at UK retailers come via or from the Netherlands.

UK growers demonstrating good-quality service through quality produce, efficiency and variety should be able to compete with continental markets and substitute plant imports. This would not only significantly grow the domestic market but also reduce domestic biosecurity risk.

However, UK ornamental growers face a number of challenges that need to be overcome to expand production. Going for Growth: The UK Ornamentals Market Conference is the opportunity for policymakers, growers, plant buyers and their suppliers to come together and develop strategies to help UK ornamental growers expand their market share.

The one-day conference will examine the issues that need to be addressed to enable the industry to seize this opportunity, including skills, labour, productivity, automation, research and development, and commercial issues. Moreover, with the support of Defra, it will identify the level of demand in the UK for plant imports to be substituted.

Keynote address

Lord Gardiner, Defra minister for rural affairs and biosecurity, will give the keynote address on “The Battle for Biosecurity: What policy is in the pipeline to manage pest and disease risk?”. He will give Defra’s viewpoint on obstacles to biosecurity and how they can be overcome, how the national plant health strategy is going to support UK growers and how Defra help facilitate UK growers to expand domestic production.

Chief plant health officer Nicola Spence will speak on the opportunity presented by Brexit and biosecurity concerns for the UK ornamental growers industry, covering questions including:

  • How much of an opportunity does the new trading and biosecurity environment actually present for the UK growing industry?
  • How has Defra quantified the opportunity that biosecurity poses, through the data it has collected and collated?
  • What have been the historic barriers to UK ornamental growers competing with other supplier markets?

Spence comments: “We welcome the support and sponsorship of the wider industry in supporting this conference.” She added: “The conference is the perfect opportunity for Defra and the industry’s growers, plant buyers and suppliers to come together and develop strategies, discuss changes and scope the data that will help UK ornamental growers expand their market share post-Brexit, while reducing the domestic biosecurity risk.”

Dr Caroline Reid, senior technical lead for Northern Europe at conference keynote sponsor Bioline AgroSciences, will speak on “Introducing integrated pest management in ornamentals: Your way to a pesticide-free product”. She will discuss matching your products to consumer choice:

  • How can you increase value through producing and promoting residue-free crops?
  • How can you ensure that your biocontrol agents are compatible with essential chemicals?
  • What physical and agronomic measurement can you take to practically avoid the need for pesticides?

A panel discussion on “How can UK growers win over retailers and other plant buyers?” will include Klondyke Group head of buying Andy Smith, YouGarden managing director Peter McDermott and Fera Science’s Julian Smith.

There will be a “Strategic” stream on what public money will be available post-Brexit, with contributions from Defra and Innovate UK, and a “Production” stream on making automation a reality to improve production and address skills and labour shortages.

Another element to the conference will be a session on “The environment and you: reducing peat, plastic and water usage”. Speakers will include Natalie Porter of Porters Fuchsias.

There will also be case study success stories from those who have won funding, received planning approval and ultimately expanded their business “Securing planning permission on green belt land and becoming a peat-free nursery” will feature Lineside Nursery director Martin Mobbs, YouGarden managing director Peter McDermott and Opperman Plants director Mike Opperman. 


Going for Growth: The UK Ornamentals Market Conference
23 June 2020
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, B15 3TR
For full information go to www.hortweekevents.com


Confirmed Speakers

  • Lord Gardiner, minister for rural affairs and biosecurity, Defra
  • Nicola Spence, chief plant health officer, Defra
  • Andy Smith, head of buying, Klondyke Group
  • Dr Alan Millard, lecturer in robotics, University of Plymouth
  • Martin Mobbs, director, Lineside Nursery
  • Peter McDermott, managing director, YouGarden
  • Mike Opperman, director, Opperman Plants
  • Dr Caroline Reid, senior technical lead, Northern Europe, Bioline AgroSciences
  • Julian Smith, international partnership, Fera Science
  • Natalie Porter, sales and marketing manager, Porters Fuchsias

Keynote Sponsor

*UPL is among confirmed exhibitors at the event. If businesses wish to sponsor or exhibit, please contact roisin.kennedy@haymarket.com.


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