Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine attended the first GLAS, the Garden Landscape Amenity Showcase, which took place at City West Exhibition Centre.
This new national trade-only horticultural and lifestyle event has evolved from the Kildare Growers Show that was held on an annual basis for the last 20 years or so. Organised with assistance from Bord Bia, GLAS this year provides a great networking and sales opportunity for people involved in the Irish amenity horticulture sector.
Speaking at GLAS, the Minister of State complimented all those involved in organising the inaugural show. He saw it “as a good example of what can be achieved by a group of people within an industry coming together with a common purpose”.
A key element of the show which was well received by many of the exhibitors was Bord Bia’s “Marketplace.” This innovation allowed exhibitors have a series of focussed, pre-organised face-to-face meetings with key potential customers from Ireland and abroad.
The Irish horticulture amenity sector has been confronted by many challenges in recent years through a combination of the economic downturn and adverse weather conditions. However, many producers have re-aligned their production to reflect their changed circumstances and sales to date in 2011 which have been particularly strong especially for those supplying garden plants. There is a new air of enthusiasm in the industry.
Acknowledging the difficulties experienced by the amenity sector over recent years, the Minister stated, “While the horticulture amenity sector has experienced a number of difficult years it has great potential to develop if growers come together to exploit the opportunities that exist to reduce input costs and promote co-ordinated marketing of plants.”
Pointing out that the Irish retail market for plant and flower sales is estimated to be worth in the region of €235m per annum, the Minister of State referred to Bord Bia’s recently published strategy for the horticulture amenity sector which sets a target of replacing one third of plant imports with Irish plants by 2020. The Minister stated if this target is to be achieved the industry needed “to come together to develop and promote a brand and labelling system that would clearly identify Irish grown plants from those that are imported.”