NFU chief horticulture adviser Hayley Campbell-Gibbons announced to the British Protected Ornamen-tals Association’s Growers Look Ahead conference that the code would establish a set of agreed standards across the supply chain with the aim of creating a fair and functioning marketplace.
Campbell-Gibbons gave a keynote speech, setting out three areas that need to be addressed. As well as market revision, she added that industry-focused research and supportive Government policy are key.
She criticised buyers who she said had been "playing fast and loose" with the supply chain and pushing all the risks onto growers.
The proposal to work with the supply chain aims to continue the work of nurseryman Derf Paton, who proposed the code of good practice in 2008 in particular to govern relationships with major retailers.
"When the idea was taken to retailers originally, it received a lukewarm reaction and there was no appetite to take it forward," said Campbell-Gibbons. "Often an industry has to be brought to a crisis before things change. Retailers are starting to get jumpy as growers are cutting back production after this year."
She added that uncertainty in the eurozone is putting the industry under pressure. "The EU is our biggest trading partner and the relationship between the pound and the euro has a direct relationship on our competitiveness. The pound has been appreciating in value and it has not been as strong since 2008.
"EU stock is getting much more attractive to buyers and EU growers have started targeting UK buyers directly. Buyers need to decide if they want to maintain a long-term supply of British plants and shouldn’t be tempted away by a short-term advantage."
Campbell-Gibbons added: "If they don’t back Britain now, then the growers might not be in business when they want to come back to them in the future. We want to achieve a true sharing of risks and rewards to have a profitable supply chain."
She also said a collaborative approach is key to -success and called for representatives from the industry to get involved.
Growers Look Ahead BPOA conference attracts 130 people
The British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) Growers Look Ahead conference last week attracted 130 people.
Talks included MorePeople founder Guy Moreton on business succession planning, Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker on industry trends and RHS senior trials manager Mark Heath on how growers can work with the RHS.
Speakers from Fargro, Laverstoke Park and Vegetalis spoke on technical developments in the industry. BPOA chairman Ian Riggs gave an update on the Home Grown initiative, adding that more than 25 exhibitors at Four Oaks displayed the logo.