Shortage of Christmas trees blamed on axed EU subsidy

Christmas trees will be in much shorter supply than usual and will cost up to 25% more than last year, growers have warned.

Around 700,000 fewer Nordmann Firs than normal are expected to be imported into Britain for Christmas. The trees account for up to half of the eight million sold for the holiday season.

Denmark usually supplies a million of the firs but the axing of EU subsidies has seen many Danish growers give up and the weak pound has pushed prices up, with only 300,000 trees now set to be imported. The shortage is being blamed on the poor exchange rate, which makes it less profitable to export to Britain.

British Christmas Tree Growers Association secretary Roger Hay said: "There is a real shortage of Nordmann Firs. Some people who were hoping to get a fir won't." He added: "I've had dozens of calls from garden centres looking to stock trees and there just aren't as many about.

"People are going to have to substitute other trees, such as pines, to make up the shortfall. They should try and reserve their tree as soon as they can. Customers may well also find that the trees are more expensive because the shortage will give retailers the opportunity to increase their prices."

Andy Bunker, who is in charge of buying 45,000 Nordmann firs for 30 garden centres nationwide belonging to the Tillington Group, said the trees would cost up to 25 per cent more this year.

Bunker, of Alton Garden Centre in Wickford, Essex, said: "Nordmanns will cost substantially more this year than last. The best 6ft trees were £39.99 last year. They will be up to £49.99 this Christmas. The shortage in supply means that it is a very strong seller's market.

"You used to see a lot of schools, pubs and clubs buying the really big trees but now they cannot afford them. A few years ago, schools could buy a 12ft tree for £70 but now they are up to £150 and that is a lot of money for schools when they break up a couple of weeks into December."

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