Ornamental plant exports could bring 1,000 jobs says study

A new report reveals that displacing a proportion of the imported £324m of live ornamental plants and £598m of cut flowers presents substantial new market opportunities for the UK ornamentals sector.

The report, produced for the Horticultural Development Company by David Denny of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), quantifies the opportunities for UK ornamentals growers for import substitution and export.

In an industry worth £1bn a year that provides the equivalent of 15,000 full time jobs, export markets account for only five per cent, or £50m worth, of UK growers’ sales.

The report says export opportunities lie in former eastern bloc countries, some of which have joined the EU where ornamentals spend is low but growing rapidly. Nordic and alpine countries with high living standards and high per capita spend on ornamentals and much detached housing, with larger gardens is showing more modest growth, but it is still high and often fuelled by import growth.

The remaining markets were categorised as the  potentially less attractive southern Europe area which is characterised by low and falling per capita spend on ornamentals and gardens, and markets where domestic production is often substantial and competition for UK exporters is likely to be fierce.

Denny said: "Identifying and understanding these markets highlights significant opportunities for UK growers to achieve sales growth by improving competitiveness against overseas producers."

The report also looked into how UK growers could increase their appeal to home markets. Alongside price competitiveness, the challenge highlighted was improving flexibility of ordering. Encouragingly, UK garden centres rated the quality of UK produced ornamentals as superior to imports, so a message for UK growers was to be to build further collaboration with retailers to provide adaptable supply systems to meet demand.

The potential benefits to the UK economy of grasping import substitution opportunities could be substantial – potentially providing a further 1,000 additional full-time general nursery worker jobs.

HDC director Bill Parker said: "HDC’s principal role is to fund the delivery of applied research and development  that helps the horticulture industry remain efficient, sustainable and competitive. So while market intelligence is not a mainstream activity for us, we will fund one-off specific market intelligence projects where we think a genuine benefit to levy payers can be identified.   This project (CPM 001) aimed to provide ornamental growers with the basic tools to continue investigating potential new markets."

See http://www.hdc.org.uk/hdchta-overseas-markets-tool-kit on the market potential of 30 European countries. The full report CPM 001 can be found on the HDC website at www.hdc.org.uk

HDC has produced a summary of the report, which will be available from its stand at the HTA National Plant Show which takes place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on 24 and 25 June.


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