Shoppers urged to buy home-grown blooms to boost flower industry
East Anglian flower growers have backed a campaign to get patriotic shoppers to buy more British blooms.
The UK cut flower and indoor plant market is worth an estimated £2.2bn, but British growers only supply 12pc of it – a percentage which has withered in the last 30 years amid growing competition from abroad.
The National Farmers' Union's Backing British Blooms report says the annual value of imports of cut flowers increased from around £122m in 1988 to £666m in 2015, with the majority arriving from the Netherlands.
But now, during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show, the NFU has called for a renewed push from retailers, florists and growers to champion a 'renaissance' in local production – including provenance labelling to give shoppers a universally-recognisable symbol to identify home-grown blooms.
NFU horticulture adviser Amy Gray said: 'It is all very well marketing British flowers, but it is no good if the consumers don't know which ones are British and which ones are not.
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'We have had an upsurge in people asking about British flowers – it is having a bit of a renaissance.
'The quality of the plants grown in this country is exceptionally high. Having more of an understanding of what is in season, a reduction in air miles and buying something local is very important. One way we can help consumers make these informed choices is better provenance labelling.
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'But the industry needs to come together to do this. We have had some successes with voluntary labelling initiatives in the short-term, but we want to work with retailers more closely to encourage this kind of selling practice. In the long-term we will be looking at more of a legislative process. We need it to be a requirement and not an option.'
Diane Collison is a partner at Collison Cut Flowers, in Terrington St Clement, near King's Lynn, which grows 30 million flowers a year including tulips, stocks, asters and lilies for supermarkets and major retailers.
'This is absolutely something we support,' she said. 'Everything we supply to supermarkets here has a British flag on it, and they are keen to see the British flag on British produce.
'It shows provenance, and it shows these flowers are fresher and spent less time in the chain on a truck or an aeroplane.
''Tulips from Amsterdam' has a ring to it, but the quality grown here is just as good, if not better. We will pick it and pack it and it can be in the store in 48 hours – it is about quality and freshness.
'It is also a matter of switching some of the products they (retailers) are buying from abroad. There are moves afoot to do that, but they need to be able to source the right volume to be able to meet their demand. So we need to be able to invest to grow the right quality and quantity of flowers.'