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Highlights from the virtual Spring Plant Fair

Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord Bia.

Bord Bia event provided exhibitors and visitors alike with insight and information to support business growth



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11 March 2021

Bord Bia hosted the first ever virtual Spring Plant Fair this week, in support of the Irish Hardy Nurserystock Association (IHNSA) and in conjunction with IFA.

The annual fair provides a platform for Irish ornamental growers to meet commercial buyers and secure orders for the coming spring season. It brings together key industry leaders and is an excellent opportunity to showcase Irish plant products.

Virtual meetings

Upon registration, exhibitors and retail visitors were given the opportunity to book 15-miniute meetings with each other as well as Bord Bia sector managers and other Bord Bia representatives. Attendees could catch up with relevant representatives, including sector managers and members of the Horticulture and Brexit team, for example, to build connections with gain insight. The sessions were a quick and easy way for attendees to meet potential cooperation partners within the confines of a virtual setting.

Report findings

During the event, Bord Bia launched its latest research, conducted by The Thinking House, the IPSOS “Value of the Garden Market Report 2020.” During the session, led by Linda Walsh, director, Ipsos, findings from the report were revealed.

The research findings as presented to industry included the following:

  • The value of the gardening market was reported at €1.2bn, the highest level of spend since measurement began on this study.
  • Lockdowns brought about a surge in demand for hardy nursery stock, flowering plants and hard landscaping products as gardening and garden projects became a lead pastime for many.
  • Spend on outdoor and flowering plants expanded by 51% to be worth €251m. The greatest increases were evident for bulbs/flower seeds, shrubs and bedding plants.
  • Purchasing of herbs, fruit and vegetables for growing yourself reached record levels; purchasing occasions were up 38% compared with 2018, and the incidence of buying all kinds of vegetables in particular showed gains. The market value was €26m, up 42% on 2018.
  • 2020 reinforced the resurgence in the popularity of indoor potted plants. The value of the market is now €37m, up from €25m in 2018.
  • The largest increase in spend in the gardening market was on hard landscaping products. The value of the garden products category increased by 75% compared with 2018, and was worth €641m.
  • Biggest uplifts in spend were reported in garden accessories, BBQs, and garden structures. However, as with soft landscaping market, all products enjoyed significant growth in spend compared with previous measures.
  • Spend on landscaping services is also on the increase – almost at levels witnessed in the midnoughties. The market was worth €164m in 2020, up from €146m in 2018. Nearly half of all spend is on garden maintenance, though spend on garden makeovers is increasing.
  • Independent garden centres remain the single most important channel for amenity products; a quarter of all consumer spend – and almost half of spend on outdoor flowers and plants – is routed through garden centres.

Commenting on the results, Carol Marks, horticulture sector manager, Bord Bia said it “is a hugely positive story that, in spite of a period of closure last year, the category has managed to achieve record growth.”

A post-Covid world

Bord Bia also launched its new qualitative study, ‘Preparing for a post-Covid-19 Horticultural World’ during a session led by Grace Binchy, insights and trends specialist, Bord Bia.

The study measures attitudes and understanding of consumers and industry experts – how new and returning gardeners have entered the market during Covid restrictions and how to retain them. Bord Bia has been tracking and tracing behavioural shifts to provide insight and identify the best ways to futureproof your horticulture business post Covid-19.

Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia added that Covid-19 has had a transformational impact on the amenity horticulture sector. “The market for garden products has doubled over the past twenty years,” said McCarthy, “and there is a great opportunity now for the sector to continue to harness Irish consumers’ newfound interest in the garden.”

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