Christmas tree growers confident over supplies despite predicted demand
- Credit: Supplied
Christmas tree growers in Norfolk say staff shortages and import rules which could affect supplies from abroad will have no effect locally.
But they warned issues importing trees may lead to a surge in demand for those grown closer to home.
Around eight to 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK every year. One tenth of Christmas trees are imported from abroad, with many coming from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.
There have been fears the HGV driver shortage and stricter import regulations following Brexit could cause a spike in prices this year, prompting more demand for UK-grown trees.
But businesses are confident there won't be issues when buying local.
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Tom Barwick, head of tree sales at the Salle Farm Estate, said: "It could be difficult if you are buying trees abroad from places like Denmark, or from Scotland due to transportation issues. Luckily, we grow and deliver all our trees to customers ourselves so [there will be] no issues if you get them though us."
Andrew Hunt, farm manager at Great Melton Estate, was also confident but said there could be a knock-on effect if there is a shortage of trees from abroad.
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"Our trees are looking good at the moment," he said.
"If demand goes through the roof we could struggle. UK trees should be fine but will hinge around transport worries, which as farmers we are already experiencing. We sell our trees direct from the shop, so we have no problem there."
It comes amid warnings that turkeys could be off the menu this year.
The workforce crisis has caused mounting pressure on Norfolk's poultry farmers, and while the government has announced there will be a greater allowance of temporary visas for poultry workers, one farmer believes it is too little too late.
Mark Gorton, director of Traditional Norfolk Poultry, in Shropham near Attleborough, said: "The whole industry is short of people right now.
"There definitely will be a shortage of birds available for Christmas, because people have already cut numbers back."
Toy shops in Norfolk have also raised concerns that imports of toys could be disrupted due to a surge in import costs, and have urged customers to be prepared and buy gifts earlier than normal.