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Food Harvest 2020 - Report of the Horticulture Action Group

FOOD HARVEST 2020 - Report of the Horticulture Action Group - June 2011

Contents:

  1. Executive Summary & Key actions
  2. Background to Horticultural Industry
  3. Markets
  4. Main issues impacting on the development of the Horticultural Industry
  5. Development Potential
  6. Food Harvest 2020 Action Plans
  7. Appendices

1 Executive Summary & Key actions

The Horticulture Action Group was established in December 2010 by the former Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Mr Ciaran Cuffe TD to review the horticulture recommendations in Food Harvest 2020 and revert to the higher level implementation group chaired by the Minister for Agriculture with an action plan on how the recommendations can be progressed and how the horticulture sector can contribute to the targets set down in Food Harvest 2020. In this context the group were also asked to consider the outcomes of the Bord Bia Cost Competitive Study, Amenity Sector Strategy and the Teagasc Plan for Horticulture 2010-2013.

The Horticulture Action Group consists of representatives of the Horticulture Industry and the key development agencies (see appendices). The group identified seven key areas that have a significant impact on the sector and will play a key role in how the Industry develops and evolves up to 2020. These are summarised below. In addition this document sets out the horticulture recommendations in Food Harvest 2020 and proposes a number of actions on how these can be addressed.

Key Issues/Actions

1.1.1 Cost Competitiveness & Credit

Costs of Production - The cost of producing crops in Ireland is higher than competing countries (eg UK, Holland) particularly for energy and labour. While the commodity price for gas is similar in Ireland and Holland the other linked costs (ie distribution, transport and carbon tax) in total are 160% more expensive in Ireland. In Northern Ireland the minimum agricultural wage is £6.37 per hour for standard worker and £6.99 for lead worker while Ireland’s minimum agricultural rate is €9.33 per hr.

The group recommends that:

  • The Joint Labour Committee (JLC) be abolished and minimum labour rates be brought in line with key competitor countries

  • The mechanism for setting gas prices be reviewed (ie the distribution & transport cost elements)

  • Tax exemptions for Agri diesel be maintained in the context of current discussions at EU level on the Energy Taxation Directive.

  • Credit be given against the carbon tax for horticultural businesses who use carbon dioxide generated for crop production.

Availability of Credit – The production of horticultural crops by their nature require front loading of investment. It is important that credit facilities are made available to horticultural businesses to allow them plan and sow crops. A reduction in the cropping area due to a lack of credit facilities will lead to an increase in imports and reduce import substitution opportunities.

The group recommends that:

  • A mechanism (and monitoring process) be put in place by Government that will allow horticulture businesses access to working capital to facilitate planting of crops and facilitate import substitution.

1.1.2 Retail Sector

The retail sector is the most important market outlet for fresh produce. As already well documented the major multiples have a very dominant role particularly in relation to small and medium suppliers and can therefore to a large extent dictate the profitability of these suppliers. It is estimated on average across a range of produce that only one third of the final selling price is received by the producer.

The group recommends:

  • The introduction of a statutory Code of Practise for the retail sector and the appointment  of an ombudsman to oversee its provisions.

  • The development of a system whereby the timely & accurate collation of import statistics is recorded which can be utilised in monitoring produce levels within the market and maximising the domestic market share for home grown produce throughout the year.

  • The introduction of a mechanism whereby the amount of own brand product on a retail shelf is limited to 50%.

  • The promotion and support for businesses pursuing alternative routes to market.

  • The re introduction of the ban on below cost selling including fresh produce

1.1.3 Cooperation

The Industry should actively pursue & encourage within and between sectors collaborative and joint activities to deliver savings/efficiencies and the basis for enhanced co operation in a range of areas including marketing etc.

The group recommends:

  • The promotion and facilitation of collaborative initiatives within the horticulture sector

  • The promotion/development of Producer Organisations

1.1.4 Promotion

To implement significant campaigns to promote the consumption of Fresh Produce and in particular Irish Produce. The measuring and highlighting of the sustainability of produce grown locally should be part of this messaging as well as the health benefits of consuming fresh produce. The use of social media and telephone technology should feature in this activity.

The group recommends:

  • That additional resources be allocated to responsible promotional & health  agencies to increase the level of promotional activity around local  produce.

  • The establishment of a committee representing the key promotional agencies to assist in the coordinating and efficacy of promotional activity.

  • That co funding from the fresh produce Industry to support Bord Bia Quality Mark promotions focusing on fresh produce be progressed.

  • There should be increased promotion of fresh produce at secondary school level.

1.1.5 State Support

NDP Commercial Horticulture Grant Scheme – It is critical that the NDP horticulture grant scheme be maintained for the sector.

The group recommends:

  • That the NDP Commercial Horticulture Grant Scheme be implemented on a two year approval cycle rather than on an annual basis to take account of the seasonality of certain crops and  the time frame involved in securing planning permissions.

  • That  the NDP Scheme be extended  to include Potatoes.

  • That grant aid be made available for valued added/processing activity in the horticulture sector through the NDP Scheme and/or the FEOGA Marketing & Processing Scheme.

Research & Development – Increased resources are required to support the advisory and research needs of the Horticulture Industry. It will be important that market led research is prioritised and programmes are developed in conjunction with the Industry and third level institutions.

The group recommends:

  • The following resources be made provided within Teagasc – crop/research specialists in cut foliage, potatoes and the apiculture sectors. An entomologist and knowledge transfer specialist are also required.

  • That Teagasc examines and develops collaborative initiatives with the Horticultural Development Company (HDC) in the UK to facilitate sharing of technical information and initiation of research projects.

State Agency Support – It will be important to enhance & extend other State Agency support for the sector.

The group recommends:

  • That Enterprise Ireland reviews its current rules and mechanisms to allow all relevant horticulture businesses access key EI programmes to assist their ongoing development.

1.1.6 Amenity Sector

Amenity Sector Development - The Horticulture Action Group having considered the outcome of the Bord Bia Amenity strategy review have endorsed its recommendations as key actions to be carried out to maximise the contribution of this sector to the targets in Food Harvest 2020.

The group recommends:

  • The endorsement of the recommendations of the Bord Bia strategic review for the amenity sector (full list of recommendations listed in section 7.3 appendices)

Cut Foliage Sector – A recent review of the cut foliage sector by the relevant State Agencies and the Industry has identified a roadmap for its development.. The Horticulture Action Group endorses the findings and recommendations in the review including:

  • That a target of planting 40 Ha of foliage per annum over the next 10 years be pursued with the aim of developing cluster of growers in a number of counties.

  • That “leader” growers to demonstrate best practice in production in Kerry, Wexford and an inland site be selected by the National Cut Foliage Steering Committee on the advise of the cut foliage development officer.

  • That DAFF provide grant aid for the establishment and maintenance of foliage plantations.

  • That the supply of a maintenance contract service similar to that in the Forestry Sector be pursued by Marketing companies along with the cut foliage development officer .

1.1.7 Regulation

Plant Protection Products (PPP’s) - It will be critical that the ongoing work by the Industry, Teagasc, Bord Bia and the Pesticide Control Service is maintained to ensure that an adequate range of plant protection products are available to the Horticulture Industry in the future.

The Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive will come into effect in the near future.  It aims to further reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment; promote the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides. It will establish a framework that is intended to promote best practice in the storage, use and disposal of pesticides, and their packaging. This will put additional requirements on producers and the group recommends that support and assistance be provided to the horticultural industry to meet these requirements.Streamline of audits/inspections – Horticultural businesses now have to undergo a number of inspections annually both on a voluntary and statutory basis. The Group have highlighted the need to examine how the inspections process can be streamlined and simplified.

The group recommends that:

  • State agencies support actions that will facilitate Ireland’s access to data to support future PPP use applications.

  • Resources be made available to initiate residue testing trials in Ireland to facilitate exchange of information with other EU countries.

  • Industry be assisted to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive 2009/128/EC through training and the provision of support documentation.

  • Inspections/audits be streamlined and simplified to reduce costs.

2. Background to Horticultural Industry

2.0 Overview

The Horticultural Industry has an output valued at approximately €350ml at farmgate values. This figure includes both the food and amenity sectors of horticulture which make up 80% and 20% respectively of the value. The key crops in the food sector include Mushrooms, Potatoes, Field Vegetables, Fruit & Protected Crops. The key crops in the Amenity Horticulture area include Nursery Stock Production, Protected Flowers/ornamentals and Christmas Trees.

A Bord Bia review of labour in the horticulture sector in 2007 showed that employment in primary production activity was estimated at 6,000 FTE (Full time equivalents). This did not include employment upstream or downstream of the primary production process which the horticultural sector impacts (eg preparing, packing produce, garden design & landscaping etc) and which is estimated at a further 10,000.

2.1 Mushrooms

The mushroom industry is the largest sector of the Horticulture industry. The 80 growers are principally located in Monaghan, Tipperary, Cavan and Mayo and produce an estimated 45,000 tonnes of mushrooms annually from 183,000 tonnes of compost. Most of the compost is produced in Ireland. Disposal of the spent compost is still a major issue for the industry. The annual output of the mushrooms is valued at approximately €100 million at farm gate level. At least 70% of the production is exported to the UK, where Irish mushrooms account for about half of all retail sales of mushrooms. The value of Sterling against the Euro has a significant impact on the profitability of the industry. The other significant factor is the price of mushrooms coming into the UK market from the Netherlands and Poland principally. Growers have responded to price pressures in the market by investing to reduce unit cost and improve productivity

2.2 Potato Sector

In 2010,it was estimated that there were 11,200 hectares of potatoes grown in the country.  1,475 farmers listed potato production on their SPS applications. Of these 540 grew over 5 hectares and approximately 200 of these growers would account for over 75% of total production. The Irish market is dominated by 3 main varieties. Ireland imports upwards of 50,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes each year. These are mainly earlies, baby potatoes and for the processing market   While the potato production area fell in 2010 compared to 2009, this was more than offset by a very good growing season and good harvesting conditions combining to give very high saleable yields.  The high yields coupled with relatively poor demand lead to difficult market conditions as traders envisaged a large surplus of potatoes coming onto the market.  However the opportunity to export potatoes opened up for the first time in recent decades with a significant quantity of potatoes being shipped to Russia in late 2010 and into 2011 with the effect of firming up the domestic market and stimulating demand for good washing quality potatoes. To date over 60,000 tonnes have been exported both directly and indirectly.

2.3 Field Vegetables

The 2009 National Field Vegetable Census highlighted the ongoing consolidation within the sector. The total production area for field vegetables reported was 4,590 ha which is a 8% increase on 2005 and similar to the area recorded in 1999. The census shows that there are now 212 commercial field vegetable growers which is 11% less than 2005 and an indication of the ongoing consolidation within the sector.

In 2010 while field vegetable growing conditions during the year were favourable and yields were good, the two consecutive severe winters have lead many growers to consider whether it’s viable to continue to take the risk of producing winter vegetables, whilst others are considering investment in frost protection measures.

2.4 Protected Crops

There are 120 protected crop growers mainly located in North Dublin, Louth and Wexford. The main crops grown under protection are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and some flower crops. The areas and values of output overall has decreased over the years due to competition and high capital and running costs. Despite this there has been some significant investment by individual businesses in this sector in recent years.

2.5 Fruit

Over 70 growers are involved in soft fruit production where the main crops grown are strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants. The most important crop is strawberries which are now mainly grown under protection. The soft fruit sector has faired reasonably well with strong yields and good consumer demand helping to minimise price falls despite strong competition between the retail multiples.  There is also however strong competition from imports.

There are approximately 40 apple growers producing culinary, dessert and cider apples. Less than 10% of the apples consumed here are actually produced in the country. The apple sector achieved very strong yields in 2010 resulting in an increase in production of approximately 25% compared to 2009. The weakening of Sterling against the Euro also improved the contracted price for Irish cider apples however the prices for culinary and dessert apples suffered to an extent due to strong supply coupled with a very competitive retail market.

2.6 Nursery Stock:

There are over 100 nursery stock producers located mainly in Kildare, Tipperary, Kilkenny and the east of the Country. The nursery sector continues to suffer from the severe slow-down in economic activity and the collapse in construction activity and the knock effect that has had for what was the nursery sector’s main market; landscaping.  Many growers in the nursery sector have re-aligned their production systems to supply alternative markets (including the export market) in response to the fact that while people still are willing to buy plants they are no longer willing to spend significant sums on high value plants

3. Markets

The key market for the horticultural Industry is the domestic market. The two main areas of export are Mushrooms to the UK (€100ml pa) and Amenity horticultural products (€10ml pa incl Nursery Stock plants, Cut Foliage & Christmas Trees).

The majority of horticultural production is sold on the home market. The key outlets for fresh produce is the retail market. This market is valued at €1.2bn per annum (total household purchase in shops incl home produced and imported produce). The other important outlet for produce is the food service (ie catering) sector. This includes a range of outlets from hotels, restaurants, pubs to company canteens, hospitals & airlines. In many instances the product for these outlets is washed and prepared (eg peeled, diced, sliced etc) in dedicated vegetable preparation facilities. The domestic retail market for prepared fruit/vegetable products is also an important market and is valued at €85ml annually.

Fresh Produce is both produced, harvested and graded on one site or can be transported from the production site to a central facility for packing. From this point fresh produce will be supplied to CDC (Central Distribution Centres) for supply into the retail market.

The market for Amenity products and services offered by the sector are focused to a large extent on the domestic market. The retail market for plant/flower sales is estimated to be in the region of €235ml per annum. The retail market is serviced by Garden Centres, DIY shops. Lifestyle centres and supermarkets. In addition the commercial gardening & landscape market is an important part of this sector. This includes landscape designers & contractors. However with the downturn in the economy and the negative impact this has had on the building sector and consumer spend these developments have also impacted negatively on the landscape sector.

4. Main issues impacting on the development of the Horticultural Industry
4.1 Cost Competitive & Food Security Review

The Horticulture Action Group also considered the findings in the Bord Bia Cost Competitive & Food Security review. It was noted that on average Irish suppliers were at a 20% cost disadvantage in comparison to key competitors in the UK market and the impact this was having on the supply base. It also noted the lack of scale relative to its major competitors in the UK and the Netherlands. The report highlighted the costs of labour, energy and the carbon tax as key elements of this cost differential where political intervention would be required to improve this situation. Two key areas are highlighted below:

  • Labour Cost: The increased cost of employing staff in ROI at €3/hr more, is 26% higher than the UK cost and is a major factor affecting competitiveness. The Irish Agricultural Rate is €9.33/hr. Picking and harvesting of fresh produce is highly labour intensive and hence the cost of staff to pick/harvest is hugely important e.g. strawberries, scallions, etc.

  • Cost of Energy: Taking a Dutch comparison for example of gas costs for protected glasshouse production, the raw gas cost is generally the same (as it is throughout the EU). It is the distribution and transmission charges that cost more for Irish growers ie an additional cost of 8 cents per cubic meter which equates to 5.18c/kg for Irish tomatoes. The bulk of this extra cost goes to Bord Gais Networks in Ireland.

In the context of Food Security the Action Group highlighted their concern at the role of the retailer in terms of the significant market share the key players now have in the Irish market and the options available to them to source cheaper/more competitive produce outside of Ireland. If there is not an improvement in the competitiveness of the Irish supply base (and/or a recognition by key players in the supply chain of the importance of maintaining a viable and secure domestic supply of fresh produce) then there is a real danger of a greater erosion of the domestic market share of Irish produce.

4.2 Role of the Retail Trade.

The domestic retail and food service markets are the most important outlets for Irish fresh horticulture produce. Domestically the sector continues to face downward pressure on prices from the retail multiples as competition within the retail trade increased in response to the economic downturn. Growers of potatoes, vegetables and fruit are very concerned at the dominant role that supermarkets have in terms of controlling the price and quantities marketed.

It is estimated on average across a range of produce that only one third of the final selling price is received by the producer
4.2.1 Proposed Code of Practise for the Retail Sector

The Action Group discussed the current status of the proposed code of practise for the retail sector. The views of all stakeholders on a number of issues in relation to the introduction of a Code of Practice for Grocery Goods Undertakings, including as to whether the Code should be statutory or voluntary, were sought during a public consultation in 2009 by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. In all, 29 responses were received. During 2010, the opportunity was taken to explore with stakeholders the possibilities of agreeing a voluntary Code. John Travers was appointed to facilitate discussions with stakeholders. His report is expected to be submitted to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Innovation shortly. A decision is expected then to be made on publication of the report and on the detail of any legislation that might be introduced.

4.3 Imports

Ireland is situated in close proximity to a number of countries that have a very substantial horticultural industry. In addition the development of refrigerated transport means that fruit and vegetables can be imported from around the world. Whist there are some plant health restrictions applying to a limited number of commodities most products can be freely imported from all over the world. In addition as much of the retail sector is controlled by multinational supermarkets they tend to regard Ireland as part of their UK/Ireland operations and surplus production can be easily moved from the UK to Ireland.

4.4 Exports

Mushrooms are the only significant horticultural export; they account for 50% of all retail sales of mushrooms in the UK and have a value in excess of €100million. The value of Sterling against the Euro has a significant impact on the profitability of the industry Amenity products which make up 20% of horticulture output are focused to a large extent on the domestic market however there are some exports of Christmas trees, nursery stock & cut foliage

4.5 Investment in the Sector

Cash flow and restrictions on the availability of credit also impact on investment at grower level with the result that less than 50% of the investment approved for the sector under the National Development Plan in 2010 actually went ahead. Despite this current difficulty horticulture has been transformed in the past decade by technological advances which offer new products, new production methods and new approaches to the market.

It is important that credit facilities are made available to horticultural businesses to allow them plan and sow crops. A reduction in the cropping area due to a lack of credit facilities will lead to an increase in imports and reduce import substitution opportunities.

4.6 Weather
Weather conditions meant 2010 was a very difficult year for many sectors within the horticultural industry.  While the summer weather provided much more favourable growing conditions than recent years, the severe weather at the start and the end of 2010 significantly impacted on the potato, vegetable and nursery sectors.  This was largely due to frost damage rendering produce un-saleable and has seriously dented confidence in winter vegetable and nursery stock production. There will be a need to trial varieties across a range of crops to identify those varieties which can survive and thrive in more difficult weather conditions.

5. Development Potential
5.0 Horticulture Sector

Notwithstanding these issues the sector has potential for further development. There are a number of areas which would indicate the potential for development opportunities within the sector.

The Horticulture Action group identified that the implementation of the recommendations in  Food Harvest 2020 report and this report should contribute towards maximising the domestic market share for home grown produce and increasing exports where real commercial opportunities exist. While the domestic market share for fresh produce is approx 75% in peak season for key crops that can be produced in Ireland, it is lower at other times of the year and efforts need to be focused in improving this share particularly as we come into and out off the Irish season.

The Bord Bia Amenity Strategy has identified clear targets for the sector to 2020 which include increasing the farmgate value of the sector, replacing the current value of imports by up to one third and doubling the current value of exports.

In this context the Horticultural Sector has the potential to generate further employment and contribute significantly to local economies through the further development of the domestic market and building on existing export markets.

5.1 Fresh Produce:
5.1.1 Health benefits of Fresh Produce:

It is well documented that the nutritional content of produce plays an important role in health and well being and the prevention of illness and it is widely recognised that a balanced diet must include at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetable daily. The recent Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) National Nutrition Survey shows that the population is consuming on average less that 3 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, well below the recommended level day. With the health benefits being clearly recognised they provide an important unique selling point and promotional message for fresh produce. Therefore a clear aim through promotional activity is to move this consumption figure upwards.

In relation to the positive messaging around fresh produce current research on phytochemicals is also a positive development. These are chemical compounds that are found naturally in plants. Numerous studies suggest that phytochemicals can be responsible for considerable health benefits to humans. Teagasc are working as part of the Irish Phytochemical Food Network (IPFN - an alliance of scientists from various food related research fields that gathers and exchanges knowledge on naturally occurring nutrients and bioactive compounds) to research this area further which will deliver further positive messaging around fruit and vegetables.
Fresh Produce Promotions

As part of the work of the Horticulture Action Group meetings were held and contact made with other Departments and agencies who play a role in the promotion of health eating. These included Safefood, Department of Health, Department of Education and Healthy Food For All. There are a number of good programmes/initiatives already in place eg:

  • Safe Food – “Taste Buds”, “Little Steps”, Super Food Recipe book.
  • Healthy Food For All – “The Demonstration Programme of Community Food Initiatives”, “A Good Practise Guide for Community Food Initiatives” & Good Practise Guide for School Food Initiatives”
  • Bord Bia – “Best in Season” fresh produce promotion campaign
  • Bord Bia/DAFF – “Food Dudes” schools programme.

It was agreed that the aim should be to establish regular contact between the relevant personnel in these (and other relevant organisations) to inform all interests of what healthy eating plans/programmes currently exist (particularly around fresh produce) which impact this area and identify where synergies exist and joint activity can be strengthened and/or initiated. It was noted that there are a number of healthy eating/health living initiatives/programmes in place which are not focused narrowly on the consumption of fresh produce but nevertheless feature as an element to a greater or lesser degree. It was agreed that that there should be increased promotion of fresh produce at secondary school level.

5.1.2 Local Produce

Consumers have traditionally been supportive of home grown fresh produce. Market research has confirmed their preference for local produce when the offering is available and identifiable. The current environment offers the opportunity for local seasonal produce to be highlighted and promoted as a guarantee of supply for the future without the environmental and additional transport costs generated by imported produce. Food security and sustainable production will increasingly be an important issue. In recent years many smaller producers have exited the sector for economic reasons. Recognition by the market & consumers of the need to maintain a strong Horticulture Industry in Ireland will offer growth opportunities for existing growers through import substitution and market growth.

5.1.3 Produce Range & Presentation

Consumers continue to demand a greater range of produce presented in different formats. Consumer tastes have developed and expanded to include a wide range of experiences which need to be satisfied. There will be a need for the Industry to continue to innovate and this will continue to offer opportunities to the Industry.

5.1.4 Foodservice

The food service market is an important market outlet for fresh produce of which a significant volume is imported. Even with the economic downturn having had a negative impact on the frequency that consumers eat out there are still opportunities to replace imported product with home grown produce. Also the opportunities for the fresh produce sector to supply major national catering contracts should be pursued.

5.1.5 Other market opportunities

Other potential growth opportunities exist for:

  • supplying to farmers markets which have increased in numbers over the last  few years,

  • supplying into the organic market which still has a significant import element to it

  • the production of fruit juice and craft cider which has provided opportunities for a small number of producers in recent times.

  • the production and marketing (home & export) of seed potatoes given Ireland’s special designation by the EU as a “High Grade Region for Seed Potatoes” and the comprehensive Teagasc breeding programme.

  • The increased production of salad potatoes to replace imported product

  • Niche opportunities that may exist locally for the production & sale of wildflower seeds from land designated under an agri environmental scheme

  • beekeeping and the sale of honey

5.1.6 Export Market

Ireland’s main export is mushroom’s. The UK is the key market and in recent years has been relatively static when compared with growth levels in the past. The promotion of mushrooms in the UK is critical to drive new growth in the market to create new sales opportunities for Irish producers. A joint EU and Industry funded mushroom campaign in the UK market is being implemented from 2011 to 2013 which will result in driving growth into the market which will be a major benefit to Irish producers.

5.2 Amenity Horticulture:
5.2.1 Amenity Sector Strategy

The Bord Bia Strategy for the amenity sector developed in consultation with the sector has clearly articulated that there is a need for the amenity sector to innovate, to develop new products and services and to develop new markets.  It was also clear that the best way to do this is through a coordinated approach where businesses both large and small combine resources to exploit new opportunities.  Some of these opportunities lie in export markets where there is a need for renewed emphasis and some opportunities are linked to ‘greening’ Irish towns and cities. Other opportunities are linked to educating families and children about the joys and benefits of cultivating edible and ornamental gardens and landscapes and thus increasing the domestic consumption of plants and amenity products and services.

The Horticulture Action Group having considered the content of the strategy have endorsed its recommendations as key actions to be carried out to maximise the contribution of this sector to the targets in Food Harvest 2020.

5.2.2 Demand for low maintenance/value added product

Bord Bia research has show that consumers have a preference for low maintenance plants. Consumers are seeking out products which offer convenience and low-maintenance. There are opportunities in the market for less expensive more mature plants and for other new products. In the current environment consumers are targeting plants with good promotional offerings.

5.2.3 Plant Innovation/New Varieties

The development of “new” plants will offer new market opportunities at home and abroad. Plant technology through micro propagation provides the mechanism to develop and trial new plants particularly those suitable to the Irish climate. The development of Cut Foliage varieties which are suitable to the Irish Climate and meet the quality criteria of the domestic and export markets for foliage products have the capacity to grow production and exports from this sector. Opportunities also exist to increase the plantings of Christmas Tress for the export market.

5.2.4 GIY & Plant promotions

The recent grow your own trend has continued to create important sales opportunities for plant retailers for fruit and vegetable plants including seed potatoes. Plant promotions will encourage sales of plant products and in particular Irish plants where opportunities exist for import substitution.

5.2.5Export Market

Market Research would indicate that there is export opportunities for Nursery Stock particularly to the UK market. Product is already being exported and additional opportunities exist.

5.2.6 Greening the Landscape

The development of a landscape strategy which will maximise the use of plants in the development of towns and landscapes in general will have both a positive impact on the environment and create opportunities for plant sales to “green” the environment.

5.2.7 Cut Foliage Sector

As part of the 2020 process a Cut Foliage sub group has met a number of times to review this sector and to put forward a number of recommendations to assist and promote the development of this sector over the next number of years. A copy of the review can be considered separately to this document. The key recommendations which have come from this review are included in the appendices of this document. They set a target of planting 40 Ha of foliage per annum over the next 10 years. It recommends that a National Cut Foliage Steering Committee be put in place to coordinate the development of the sector, Teagasc appoint a full time Cut Foliage Development Officer, DAFF provide grant aid for the establishment and maintenance of foliage plantations and that the supply of a maintenance contract service similar to that in the Forestry Sector be pursued by Marketing companies along with the proposed Cut Foliage Development Officer.

5.3 State Support
5.3.1 NDP Commercial Horticulture Grant Scheme

The NDP scheme should be implemented on a two year approval cycle rather than on an annual basis to take account of the seasonality of certain crops and delays due to planning. This is an issue that has been raised by sectoral interests over a number of years and has made it difficult for the completion of certain approved investment projects within the annual grant scheme cycle. This is a particular issue where construction activity or planting of foliage plantations is involved. A movement to a two year approval timetable would be viewed as a very positive development for increased investment in the sector. In addition consideration should be given to the inclusion of the potato sector under the NDP scheme and grant aid should be made available for valued added/processing activity in the horticulture sector through the NDP Scheme and/or the FEOGA Marketing & Processing Scheme.

5.3.2 Research & Technical Support for Horticulture

Teagasc in its development plan for the Horticulture Industry 2010-2013 identified resource requirements to deliver the targets in the plans. In particular it identified the need for crop/research specialists researchers on potatoes, apiculture & cut foliage along with an entomologist and a resource knowledge transfer specialist..  It will be important that market led research is prioritised and programmes are developed in conjunction with the Industry and third level institutions. Teagasc will examine and develop collaborative initiatives with the HDC in the UK to facilitate sharing of technical information and initiation of research projects.

5.3.3 Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is a key agency which assists and supports certain enterprises in the horticulture sector.  These include the areas of Management, HR and Research & Development. Innovation vouchers are also available to exporting companies. However Horticulture companies who are in primary production activity as distinct from manufacturing activity are not currently eligible for assistance from EI. The Horticulture action group have asked EI if this position can be reviewed to allow all relevant horticulture businesses access to key EI programmes to assist their ongoing development. EI will have to consider the most appropriate mechanism to facilitate this or indeed if some legislative change will be required.

6.0 Food Harvest 2020 Horticulture Recommendations

2020 Horticulture Recommendations – Comment/Action Plan

Ref Number

Recommendation/Action

Timeline

Responsibility

1

DAFF should encourage greater participation in the development of producer organisations to facilitate greater bargaining power in the marketplace and to encourage the adoption of new technologies and best practice at sub-sectoral level.


DAFF is working in conjunction with Teagasc and Bord Bia to encourage greater participation in Producer organisations, DAFF are also very actively involved in encouraging the 3 existing PO’s to adopt new technologies and best practices. The largest PO is spending upwards of 50% of its operational fund on new technologies.





2011 – 2020





DAFF, Bord Bia, Teagasc

2

The industry must continually adapt its production methods both to minimise environmental effects and to benefit from adopting green technologies.


Significant developments have occurred over the past decade. Growers are subject to increasing controls by State Agencies and increasing demands from the retailers. In addition increasing numbers of them have become members of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes. They are therefore very aware of the environmental impacts of their production. Growers have also invested in newer growing facilities, heating systems and technologies principally as a means of reducing costs and will continue to do so in the future.


The amendments to the NDP grant scheme as detailed below should assist in this process.



2011- 2020





2011



Industry





DAFF

3

Relevant state agencies should foster product and production innovation, the adoption of emerging technologies and plant breeding.


Bord Bia has in place a comprehensive innovation programme for Horticulture which incorporates market research, product development and testing. Bord Bia will provide more funding for and promote more widely the current horticulture innovation programme available to the sector. EI can also assist in the area of innovation and will examine how existing schemes can be adapted to maximize assistance to Horticultural companies.  Bord Bia is facilitating/supporting an NPD programme for a new range of Irish Plants. In addition in the Cut Foliage sector a joint 3 year programme between Bord Bia, Teagasc and the Cut Foliage Industry has initiated a number of market led trials of new foliage varieties targeted at the home and export market.



2011-2020




2010 – 2013



Bord Bia/EI




Bord Bia, Teagasc, Industry

4

Processors should invest in specialised plant and equipment to improve labour productivity, working conditions and the quality of output.


Processors are continually investing in their facilities in order to meet the growing legislative demands that are placed on them in relation to HACCP and health and safety. Processors are constantly looking at new technologies as a means of remaining competitive and generating new products.


It is recommended that grant aid be made available for valued added/processing activity in the horticulture sector through the NDP grant Scheme and/or the FEOGA Marketing & Processing Scheme.


Enterprise Ireland offers a range of supports which seeks to foster the development of expertise within companies geared towards leadership development, research, productivity and general efficiencies.




2011-2010



2012 - 2020



2011 – 2020




Industry



DAFF



EI

5

DAFF should review funding under the Horticultural NDP with a view to maximising the uptake of green technology, including water recycling, energy from waste and innovation based on plant production.


DAFF has amended the terms and conditions of the Horticultural NDP grant scheme to facilitate the maximum uptake of green technology. Under the current 2011 round funding of €4million will be provided for investment in horticultural enterprises. DAFF has specifically included the technologies listed above in the application form.





2011





DAFF

6

The relevant Departments should review existing programmes and supports in relation to the horticulture sector, and should identify any changes in legislation or in the scope and type of measures required to develop the industry and associated businesses.


Horticulture Enterprises can access a number of existing programmes and supports which range from technical support to training to capital investment to marketing/innovation assistance. In the context of Food Harvest 2020 Bord Bia is completing in 2011 a guide booklet on the various grant schemes currently open to businesses in the horticulture sector. The booklet will identify the type of assistance available and the responsible body/agency.


This will include EI who will examine how existing schemes can be adapted and/or modified to maximize assistance to Horticultural companies.





2011




2011





Bord Bia




EI

7

DAFF and the relevant State agencies should further promote the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.


There are a number of state bodies/agencies who have a role to play in this area. These include DAFF, Bord Bia, Safe Food, Department of Health and Department of Education.  From 2011 the aim is to establish contact  between the relevant personnel in these (and other relevant organisations) to inform all interests of what plans/programmes currently exist which impact this area and identify where synergies exist and joint activity can be strengthened and/or initiated.


Bord Bia’s annual promotions programme for fresh produce titled “Best in Season” will feature prominently messaging around the health benefits of consuming the recommended daily intake of fruit/veg. The annual campaign commences in April and runs to the end of the year. School programmes which are currently running in 2011 such as “Food Dudes” & “Incredible Edibles” will continue communicate the message to the younger age groups.



2011-2020






2011- ongoing



Bord Bia, DoH, DoE, Safefood.






Bord Bia

8

Bord Bia should identify opportunities in relation to new products, e.g. herbs, indoor fruit production, mini potatoes, ornamentals and develop consumer awareness of domestic varieties.


Bord Bia are currently carrying out market research on this area. This research will be completed in  2011. Teagasc will input into the feasibility of growing potential new crops here from an agronomy and cost competitive perspective. Current and supported initiatives in the amenity sector include development of new plant varieties and cut foliage varieties.


In addition current CSO trade statistics will be analysed to identify where realistic import substitution opportunities exist and how these opportunities can be realised.




2011


2011- 2013


2011 – 2013




Bord Bia


Bord Bia, Teagasc


Bord Bia

9

Bord Bia-led market research should explore the opportunities for production of non- traditional fruit and vegetables.


Bord Bia are currently carrying out market research in this area. This research will be completed in  2011. Teagasc will input into the feasibility of growing potential new crops here from an agronomy and cost competitive perspective.



2011

2011 – 2013



Bord Bia

Teagasc





 

6.1 Other Key Actions




Ref Number

Key Actions

Timeline

Responsiblity Agencies/Depts/Groups

1.1.1

Cost Competitiveness & Credit


The group recommends that:

  • The Joint Labour Committee (JLC) be abolished and minimum labour rates be brought in line with key competitor countries

  • The mechanism for setting gas prices be reviewed (ie the distribution & transport cost elements)

  • Tax exemptions for Agri diesel be maintained in the context of current discussions at EU level on the Energy Taxation Directive.

  • Credit be given against the carbon tax for horticultural businesses who use carbon dioxide generated for crop production.

  • A mechanism (and monitoring process) be put in place by Government that will allow horticulture businesses access to working capital to facilitate planting of crops and facilitate import substitution.




2011 -2012








Relevant Government Departments.

1.1.2

Retail Sector


The group recommends:

  • The introduction of a statutory Code of Practise for the retail sector and the appointment  of an ombudsman to oversee its provisions.

  • The development of a system whereby the timely & accurate collation of import statistics is recorded which can be utilised in monitoring produce levels within the market and maximising the domestic market share for home grown produce throughout the year.

  • The introduction of a mechanism whereby the amount of own brand product on a retail shelf is limited to 50%.

  • The promotion and support for businesses pursuing alternative routes to market.




2011 – 2012

2011 -2012



2011 – 2010

2011-2020




DoEJI

Retailers, Industry, Bord Bia, DAFF



Do EJI


Bord Bia, DAFF

1.1.3

Cooperation


The group recommends:

  • The promotion and facilitation of collaborative initiatives within the horticulture sector

  • The promotion/development of Producer Organisations





2011 – 2013





DAFF, Bord Bia, Teagasc, Industry

1.1.4

Promotion


The group recommends:

  • That additional resources be allocated to responsible promotional & health  agencies to increase the level of promotional activity around local  produce.

  • The establishment of a committee representing the key promotional agencies to assist in the coordinating and efficacy of promotional activity.

  • That co funding from the fresh produce Industry to support Bord Bia Quality Mark promotions focusing on fresh produce be progressed.

  • There should be increased promotion of fresh produce at secondary school level.




2011-2020






Industry, Bord Bia, DAFF, DoH

1.1.5

Agency Support


The group recommends:

  • That the NDP Commercial Horticulture Grant Scheme be implemented on a two year approval cycle rather than on an annual basis to take account of the seasonality of certain crops and  the time frame involved in securing planning permissions.

  • That  the NDP Scheme be extended  to include Potatoes.

  • That grant aid be made available for valued added/processing activity in the horticulture sector through the NDP Scheme and/or the FEOGA Marketing & Processing Scheme.

  • The following resources be made provided within Teagasc – crop/research specialists in cut foliage, potatoes and the apiculture sectors. An entomologist and knowledge transfer specialist are also required.

  • That Teagasc examines and develops collaborative initiatives with the HDC in the UK to facilitate sharing of technical information and initiation of research projects.

  • Enterprise Ireland to review current rules and mechanisms to allow all relevant horticulture businesses access to key EI programmes to assist their ongoing development.



2011-2010






2012 -2014




2011 – 2012



DAFF






Teagasc




EI

1.1.6

Amenity Sector Development


The group recommends:

  • The endorsement of the recommendations of the Bord Bia strategic review for the amenity sector (full list of recommendations listed in section 7.3 appendices)

  • That a target of planting 40 Ha of cut foliage per annum over the next 10 years be pursued with the aim of developing cluster of growers in a number of counties.

  • That  “leader” growers be selected to demonstrate best practice in production in regions selected for promotion of the sector such as Kerry, Wexford etc.
  • That DAFF provide grant aid for the establishment and maintenance of foliage plantations.

  • That the supply of a maintenance contract service similar to that in the Forestry Sector be pursued by Marketing companies along with the cut foliage development officer.




2011-2020



2011-2020



2011 -2012


2012 - 2020




Bord Bia, Industry,

State Agencies

Teagasc



DAFF


Teagasc/Industry

1.1.7

Regulation


The group recommends:

  • State agencies support actions that will facilitate Ireland’s access to data to support future PPP use applications.

  • Resources be made available to initiate residue testing trials in Ireland to facilitate exchange of information with other EU countries.

  • Industry be assisted to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive 2009/128/EC through training and the provision of support documentation.

  • Inspections/audits be streamlined and simplified to reduce costs.





2011 - 2020




DAFF, Teagasc, Bord Bia.





7. Appendices
7.1 Horticulture Action Group Membership

      • Kieran Dunne , L&K Dunne Nurseries Ltd (Chairman)
      • Caroline Keeling, Keelings Ltd
      • John Hogan, DMG
      • Lavinia Walsh, Silverfort Mushrooms
      • Maurice Whelton, Clonakilty Potatoes
      • Gabriel Roe (DAFF)
      • Jim O’Mahony (Teagasc)
      • Mike Neary (Bord Bia)

7.2  Cut Foliage Review - Recommendations

  1. That Bord Bia supports an assessment of the potential for new product development and innovation in the sector and investigates the branding of cut foliage which can enhance the green image of “Brand Ireland” and provide another focus for rural tourism. Bord Bia will establish the export potential of cut foliage and promote the sector abroad.

  2. Establish a National Cut Foliage Steering Committee to coordinate the development of the sector.  Membership will include representatives from Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Teagasc, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Leader and County Enterprise Board as well as an entrepreneurial marketeer, propagator and grower. This Committee will provide a strategic overview to the development of the sector.

  3. Appoint a full time Cut Foliage Development Officer (Teagasc) to lead and manage this new industry.

  4. Support Research and Development in the Foliage Plant Sector through EU and/or National Schemes/resources.

  5. Target planting 40 Ha of foliage per annum over the next 10 years with the aim of developing clusters of growers in a number of counties. Select “leader” growers (3) to demonstrate best practice in production.

  6. DAFF provide grant aid for the establishment and maintenance of foliage plantations.

  7. Marketing companies along with the Cut Foliage Development Officer will encourage the establishment of a maintenance contract service similar to that in the Forestry Sector .

7.3 Bord Bia Amenity Strategy Review – Recommendations:

  1. Development of new Cut Foliage varieties suitable for Irish growing conditions and European market requirements

  2. US Daffodil Bulbs Market trade promotion of Irish bulbs

  3. Micro-propagation and trials site development of new range of Irish-bred plants suitable for licensing and/or exclusive production of finished plants in Ireland

  4. Develop of programme for stock cleaning and development of new plants

  5. Christmas Trees – planting campaign to encourage new plantings and fill gap which is occurring in market for Irish-grown trees

  6. Development of Inter-trading website to consolidate supplies from Irish nurseries and making purchase of Irish plants easier for plant buyers.

  7. Point of sale/labeling system/website and campaign to raise awareness of Irish–grown plants using Bloom and other consumer events

  8. Facilitation of exporters forum and provision of UK market expertise.

  9. Facilitation of inward buyer trips aimed at maximizing use of National Plant Fairs, Bloom and GLAS amenity showcase

  10. Holding of regional seminars with speakers focused on increasing collaboration across amenity sector

  11. Holding biannual conference which brings together representatives from across the sector.

  12. Establishment of the national amenity council as an overarching representative body.

  13. Initiation of educational /school programme around plants & gardening.

  1. Horticultutal Output – 2010 Estimate
  • Protected Crops €72ml
  • Mushrooms €98ml
  • Field Vegetables €60ml
  • Fruit (o/door) €8ml
  • Amenity/Nursery/Flower Crops €42
  • Potatoes €84ml
  • Total output €364ml


7.4 References

  1. Bord Bia Fresh Produce Cost Competitive Review
  2. Bord Bia Amenity Sector Strategy Review
  3. Teagasc Plan for Horticulture 2010-2013
  4. Cut Foliage Sector Review