Grower News

The coronavirus outbreak is having a hugely detrimental effect on Britain’s horticultural industry, which is at breaking point after the closure of over 2,000 garden centres across the country, and the plunge in demand for UK-grown seasonal plants and flowers since the lockdown . According to the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), around 650 businesses, many of them family-run, face the prospect of financial ruin as thousands of plants will have to be ‘binned’ – a total stock write-off unlike that of any other industry, amounting to around £200 million. Hundreds of UK growers and nurseries face complete loss of income, and cannot afford to take on the debt of a government loan, while many may not even be eligible. Ornamental crops (shrubs, pot plants, flowers ) are a major part of the UK’s gardening industry with the 650 businesses growing them, which is worth £1.4 billion to the country’s GDP annually, and employs over 15,000 people directly and almost 30,000 indirectly. Many of these jobs also form a vital lifeline for rural communities. What’s the threat to the horticultural industry? Since Mother’s Day weekend, when demand is typically high but people were beginning to self-isolate, sales dwindled dramatically, while lockdown and the closure of ‘non-essential’ stores means there is unlikely to be any sales boosts through to the May bank holiday; the busiest trading period of the year. Peak season has only a matter of weeks left for the horticulture sector which has formed an essential part of British life for over 350 years. It includes the ornamental crop sector, which grows bulbs, bedding plants, cut flowers, pot plants and stock mostly sold through garden centres, supermarkets, florists and DIY stores. The perishability and seasonality of plants means that an estimated £200 million worth of seasonal plants will have to be scrapped across the ornamental horticulture industry. Sue Biggs, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Director General, said: ‘The RHS is deeply concerned about the threats facing the Ornamental Horticulture sector due to COVID-19, as are all our partners in the industry body, the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, which includes HTA. […]