Export Sales and Jobs Potential in Cut Foliage Enterprise
The market for cut foliage, which is often referred to as the ‘filler’ in flower bouquets and arrangements and is harvested from a wide range of ornamental trees and shrubs, is currently worth €500 million in the EU. The prospects for continuing expansion of the small Irish industry, which is currently worth €3.5 million per annum in export sales, are very promising.
Speaking at the Teagasc Cut Foliage Conference taking place in Kildalton Horticultural College today, Thursday, 20 September, Dr. Simon Pearson of Winchester Growers, one of the UK’s main producers and suppliers of floral products to the supermarkets said: “Ireland could potentially supply a substantial share of this market given the suitability of its climate for growing superior quality foliage and its well organised market-led research programme.” Whilst there is demand year round by the supermarket and wholesale trade across the EU, vast quantities are used at peak periods like Christmas, Valentines Day and Mothers Day.
Andy Whelton, Teagasc cut foliage specialist said that the interagency steering committee, consisting of representatives of Teagasc, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), which is charged with developing the sector, is key to success. The national group is confident that €30 million worth of foliage could be profitably exported from Ireland in the next number of years, creating much needed employment in harvesting and added value processing at local level.
Development in this sector has gathered pace over the last number of years with over 175 hectares grown amongst 20 growers in the Munster and Leinster regions, with the largest areas in Kerry and Wexford. Opportunities exist for growers and land owners in southern counties and the enterprise can be an ideal alternative farming enterprise for those in the right area with the right site who are adequately resourced and skilled.
Speaking at the conference, Ted Massey, Agriculture Inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said: “the Department is supporting the development of the cut foliage sector through its Scheme for Investment Aid in Commercial Horticulture and see’s substantial potential in export sales and employment by 2020.”