Seeds all set for new year push

Cautious customers are ordering later, but seed firms say performance is up on last December.

Seed companies say they are holding up well with orders, despite caution from some customers at the end of a difficult year.

Orders are coming in at similar levels to last year, with this year's bad weather having a limited effect. But some firms are finding that orders are coming in later.

Thompson and Morgan head of wholesale Nigel Judd said: "We are a little bit back on last year. People are ordering a bit later and it's a job to pin people down.

"In terms of bulk seed sold internationally, mainly outside the EU, it's going better than anticipated. So what we're losing from UK sales we're making up with other export markets."

Kings Seeds sales and marketing director Tony Ward added: "It's going quite well - at least equal to last year and possibly up. It is getting more competitive now. You've got to look at your pricing structure. But it's ticking along quite nicely. It's looking like we're about 10-12 per cent up and we've had no price rises.

"It was pretty flat last year because of the weather. December is normally quiet and we can only really tell in January, which is when we do 30 per cent of our trade. Mail order is up, packet sales are just about up and the bulk side of things is up as well."

Ward said the year's weather was not having a big effect, with growers putting it down to a one-off and still producing crops for 2013 which suffered with the conditions this year. "Most people are putting this year behind them," he said.

Breeders Seeds managing director Wayne Smith said new customers had boosted company performance. "It's not too bad at all. We've invested in new packing machines and seed coating technology and we're attracting customers who like that sort of thing. We've got a few new customers. It's a better product and a better offer."

However, he said he was seeing some later ordering. "People have been a bit slower making decisions. Some have been more cautious because people are not getting decisions from their customers so they are holding off themselves. But we've got everything we were expecting and more."

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