Amenity market worth €16m per week

A LUCRATIVE ‘growing’ alternative farm enterprise lurks in the rapidly expanding amenity market in Ireland, which is experiencing phenomenal growth, a Bord Bia study has revealed.

The study which covered the main range of amenity products, grown in this country or imported — to meet the demand — found that over a four year period the value of the market in Ireland had increased by 71% and for the 2005/06 year was worth an average of more than €16m per week for the year and now offers a basket of opportunities for the farmer interested in developing an alternative enterprise in growing supplies for the amenity market.

The biggest growth category was garden products, which increased by 122% over the four years and is now worth in excess of €440m per annum.

The second largest value category was outdoor plants which are now worth an annual €217m following an increase of 40% since 2002. The study found that the market for freshly cut flowers has now increased to an annual worth of €88m and has been increasing at a rate of nearly 4% per annum. Another major growth area is the provision of landscaping services which is now calculated to be worth an annual €72m and has shown an increase of 64% since 2002.

Although the garden centres are still the largest outlet for supplies of amenity products with 50% of the trade, their share is dropping as customers change over the making more of their purchases at DIY and hardware stores. DIY stores increased their market share by 55% between 2002 and 2006 to account for 14% of the trade and independent hardware stores were up 25% to 5%. Local florists and local convenience stores were the big losers in market share over the period, each down by 17% while supermarkets showed no change at 8% of the trade.

Teagasc Specialist Advisor, Paddy Gleeson attributes the massive expansion to the effect of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy which has been particularly evident during the past few years. He says that there are four main types. The keen gardener tends to be over 55 years, enjoys gardening and buys a little and often. The lifestyle gardener, aged 35-55 year, with an active life style, money rich and time poor who wants a nice garden that is easy to care for. Beginners come from every age group, need help, advice, inspiration and assurance and like to take it easy.

There is also the reluctant gardener.

They come from every age grouping and like to give the garden the minimum attention.

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