The cut flower market can learn a lot from the way the food and drink industry has promoted provenance and local sourcing as a way to tap into the increasing consumer interest in understanding where our food has come from. And it isn’t a huge step from wanting to know where our milk has come from, to wanting to know who has grown our flowers. This interest is often part of a desire to buy ethically and reduce food (or flower) miles.
Last year, the NFU launched its “Backing British Blooms” report which set out some of the challenges the British cut flower market faces, but also highlighted ways in which the industry could reach its full potential, and capture share back from the imported flower market.
- According to the Flowers & Plants Association, the UK fresh cut flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion at retail level, representing an average spend of £36 per person per year. http://www.flowersandplantsassociation.org.uk/industry/uk-market.htm
- This is up from the 1984 value of £8 per person per year, but is significantly below per person expenditure in other European countries.
- The NFU report stated that Britain’s imported flowers were valued at £666m in 2015, a six-fold increase on the £122m imports in 1988. https://www.nfuonline.com/assets/63746
- The top 3 nations exporting to the UK are Netherlands, Kenya and Colombia, with the majority of the cut flowers coming through the Dutch auctions.
- The NFU estimates that about 12% of flowers sold in the UK are grown in Britain
- In the UK, the majority of flowers (56%) are sold in supermarkets, with florists contributing about 25% of sales
Grown not flown
With seasonality becoming a virtue, a number of online businesses have developed which champion British growers and aim to put consumers in touch with local growers. Businesses such as The Flower Union, Common Farm Flowers, Flowers from the Farm, The Great British Florist, The British Flower Collective are all promoting the “grown not flown” message and helping to make the voice of local flower growers heard.
The Backing British Blooms report made some recommendations to remove some of the barriers to growth for British flower growers, including:
- Development of a British Cut Flower Grower Association to represent the sector, implement overarching “buy local” campaigns and lobby government and retailers
- Improvement of provenance labelling to help consumers make an informed choice
- Investment in R&D and innovation in the sector
- Investment in logistics infrastructure
- Investment in skills and training
So, what does this mean for Welsh flower/plant growers?
- Think about your marketing messages – do you have a strong “Grown in Wales” message?
- If your flowers/plants can be used as ingredients in food or drink products, find local producers who can use your flowers/plants to make an even stronger locally sourced statement.
- Think about pooling your resources – could you work with other Welsh growers to offer a wider selection of locally grown flowers or plants to potential customers? Or could you share logistics or input costs to help improve margins?
If you’re interested in working with other flower or plant growers, please email email@example.com