Late with the newsletter today but we are at a Spanish trade show of all things. They certainly miss the Irish market here where at the height of the ‘mental tiger’ having your own orange and lemon tree and killing it slowly was becoming very popular. The ornamental industry here has come back to earth with a bump. In general if you survived, your sales and employee rates are down at least 50%. They are working away though and it seems to be a different mentality about the business here. I visited Tina Florists based in Alicante who have 3 generations of the family working in the business. While not big enough to sustain all members of family the son teaches floristry in Madrid. I knew of many horticulture businesses in Ireland who had been doing very well but you got a certain sense that they were still wandering aimlessly as there were no family members interested in taking the business on. Has that changed? I would say that many are just very glad of a job.
I drove through 500km of glasshouses on the way to Viveralia. At first sight it was WOW, which turned to boredom after the first 200km. They can certainly grow a lot of food year round with free heat. You have to hand it to companies like Keeling’s who are competing with the Spanish suppliers on strawberries and tomatoes at certain times of the year. Supermarkets are more and more adopting a ‘grow local to supply local’ policy as it makes adhering to their carbon footprints targets easier. It should gives growers some bargaining powers in the future.
Had another of those, “we’re thinking of opening a garden centre” calls this week. Are they all mad or do they know something we don’t know or are we just missing the opportunity that is out there for the taking? This time it was from a department store in the west of Ireland. The initial query was to advertise the position on HortiTrends jobs section and how much was a suitable wage for a Garden Centre Manager. I suggested a range of €25,000 to €50,000. I got a sense that they were expecting a lower range. It is hard to gauge in these times. The minimum wage in Spain was frozen this year at around the €5 mark. The lower end of the scale starts to look OK for a manager when you consider that most of the ornamental and fresh produce horticulture sectors in Spain are based on minimum rates.
We came across these two little Bord Bia events ourselves. Amenity Horticulture Spring Seminar, YOUR Market – YOUR Future – Are YOU Ready? And Bord Bia Amenity Horticulture Quality Awards, Gala Presentation Dinner. Thought that I was seeing things or maybe it was last year’s news. No. It was current. In fairness to the communications team, they can only push out what they are told about which they do well. The problem I was told was that we and maybe even you are not on ‘The Lists’ that get the news first. We often come across really good company news for private companies that they don’t bother to share. That’s just bad business. Bord Bia as a taxpayer funded body has a duty to make sure that anything that is useful to our businesses is put out there to everyone who might find it of benefit. Please can we be on the ‘The List’ too so that we can communicate to the 7212 other visitors to HortiTrends so far in January.
Joseph (Editor at HortiTrends)