Seed suppliers are hoping that reliable data on the seed industry will be available from November after the biggest companies decided to share information on sales.
Further data from growing media and bird care markets may follow soon. At present, the seed market is not monitored (HW, 20 January) and estimates of its size vary from £70m to £90m.
Suttons marketing director David Arnold said: "Knowing how big the market is will be incredibly valuable."
The HTA hosted a meeting with Suttons, Mr Fothergill's and Thompson & Morgan with Unwins offering support. Arnold said he hoped other HTA seed supplier members would want to be involved. Lawn seed may also be covered after Johnsons showed interest.
But he added: "We would not subscribe to letting others know our market share." The data will cover market size, vegetable/flower split and distribution channels splits.
"We want to understand the dynamics of the market better but we have to wait until the end of year because we are a sale-or-return business," he added.
"We should be using the HTA as global place for our industry so we can benchmark against the market. We can only make a guess at the moment."
He said Fleuroselect was looking at a scheme for the whole of Europe but it was a "few years off".
HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "This initiative requires everyone to play ball. We do an amenity survey because it is a concentrated market but there are too many retail growers. The Growing Media Association is also interested."
Mr Fothergill's retail marketing manager Ian Cross said another meeting is set for later this month.
"The main purpose is to get a sensible view on the market on a very broad level using the HTA as a neutral body to collect the data." Mail-order sales could be backdated, he added.
Data Collection bird care shows promise
Gardman marketing director Jane Lawler said a bird care sales data collection system could be set up but the rest of the market was too difficult because products sold are so disparate.
The Pet Food Manufacturers Association would collect the data but not all parties had yet signed up or been contacted, she added.
GfK reported that from 20 November 2010 to 24 December 2011, bird care sales value dropped 35 per cent against 2010, a decline worth £1.23m.
See p14 for full Garden Centre Association January sales data.