Quantifying the opportunities for ornamentals growers for import substitution and export


Project summary:

In recent years, and specifically since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, public investment in R&D depends on the contribution it can make to the UK’s economic growth. More specifically, it has become clear through discussions with government policy makers that in order to justify public research funding on the ornamental production sector robust data is required to demonstrate the growth potential for the sector.
A substantial but as yet un-quantified proportion of ornamental plant sales in the UK is sourced from overseas growers. Were UK growers able to win even some of this share, then the economic benefits to the UK economy could be significant. However a lack of evidence prevents the industry from quantifying this opportunity and making this business case for public funding for R&D to sustain and improve British growers’ competitiveness.
Similarly UK growers tend to export relatively little in terms of ornamental plants. Whilst the Dutch tend to dominate supply into most European countries, there can be opportunities for growth for other nations. For instance Denmark is a significant exporter of ornamentals to Sweden in spite of Dutch competition. Identifying countries which may have a high demand for ornamentals and (relatively) low or fragmented competition from other nations could help levy payers focus on countries to research in more depth as export opportunities.
This project aims to generate and collate information to support levy payers in these two areas, as well as providing tactical feedback from specialist garden retailers (a core customer group for levy payers) on what they could do to improve competitiveness against overseas competitors.
This project is a one year project to measure the size of the opportunity to British levy payers (and the wider UK economy) of substitution of imported ornamental plants. It also identifies and ranks potentially attractive export markets for levy payers.
The project consists of three distinct streams of work:
• A survey of ornamental growers covering the value and destination of the plants which they produce
• A survey of specialist garden retailers assessing the proportion by value of their ornamental plants they sell which have been imported
• Desk research and analysis of existing import and export statistics for the European Union around:
o The value of imported ornamental plants into the UK
o The potential attractiveness of different European countries as export markets for British levy payers
Benefits to industry:
• Improved evidence to support the case for public investment in R&D to improve levy payers’ competitiveness
• Feedback from independent garden retailers on how (tactically) levy payers could better compete with overseas growers
• Improved ability to identify opportunities for export growth through basic information on potentially attractive export markets


Findings from this project are now available below in a summary format aimed at growers, or alternatively, the full report (including introductory grower summary) can be downloaded.

In addition to this report, the HDC and HTA have made available an Overseas Markets Tool Kit designed to provide - in a single place - data for growers looking to evaluate different countries as potential export markets for garden products.

The Excel-based tool, along with instructions for installment can be found over in our knowledge hub here: http://www.hdc.org.uk/hdchta-overseas-markets-tool-kit

Project code:
CPM 001
14 October 2013 - 13 April 2014
AHDB Horticulture
AHDB sector cost:
Project leader:


CPM 001_GS_Final_2014 CPM 001_Report_Final_2014

About this project

Aims and objectives:

Project aims
• To quantify the size of the opportunity available to British growers from import substitution (e.g. winning share from imported plants).
• To quantify and rank export opportunities for British growers
The purpose of collecting such information is both strategic and tactical. Strategically the information will be used to help make the business case for increased government investment in applied R&D to improve the competitiveness of British growers. The outputs from the project will also be used to support the work of the Horticultural Innovation Partnership (HIP). Tactically the information can be used by levy payers to benchmark themselves and identify opportunities for growth, either in terms of import substitution or export opportunities. The project will be based on 2012/13 data (e.g. the year incorporating the 2013 season), except where such data is not yet available, in which case nearest equivalents will be used.
Project objectives:
• To estimate the value of imported ornamental plants to the UK
• To estimate the value of imported ornamental plants as a proportion of British plant sales
  • To provide a breakdown of the channels into which British growers supply different crops, e.g. the proportion of ornamental plant production by value supplied to the UK amenity and retail sectors and for export, and within the retail sector to sub-divide this into independent garden centres/retailers, supermarkets, DIY stores and other retail channels
• To assess and rank the attractiveness of different export markets for British growers