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Garden centers are rushing to stock up on plant stocks ahead of Brexit border controls



Garden centers are rushing to stock up on plant stocks ahead of Brexit border controls

Garden centers and nurseries across the UK are in a frantic race to stock plants before Brexit border controls are introduced later this month.

There are many concerns about the readiness of border posts to accommodate the influx of deliveries, prompting companies to take preventive measures to safeguard their supplies.

The Horticultural Trade Association (HTA), which represents garden retailers and growers, has reported a surge in orders as members try to boost their stocks before the upcoming checks begin on April 30. As suppliers on the continent express concerns about potential delays at border checkpoints (BCPs), many companies are accelerating deliveries to limit risks.

Government plans to introduce physical checks on plant and animal products entering Britain from the EU have raised concerns among industry players. The new Border Target Operations Model (Btom) aims to enforce strict controls at designated BCP facilities, creating uncertainties about operational efficiency and potential disruptions.

According to a survey by the HTA, 41% of its members plan to speed up deliveries ahead of border controls. HTA Technical Policy Manager Sally Cullimore highlights widespread concerns about the adequacy of border control infrastructure, particularly in handling loading and unloading procedures. The timing of these checks coincides with peak weeks in horticultural trading, increasing concerns within the sector.

Companies focus primarily on stockpiling woody plants, shrubs and perennials with a longer shelf life to minimize potential losses. Martin Emmett, chairman of the NFU’s horticulture and potato board, points to the strategic import of products with longer production schedules to ensure flexibility and limit the risks associated with border delays.

However, challenges remain as some suppliers on the continent choose to hold deliveries for several weeks following the implementation of border controls. Richard McKenna of Provender Nurseries highlights the disruptions caused by suppliers in Ireland, the Netherlands and France, adding to supply chain uncertainties.

As the government assures companies of its readiness to handle the volume and type of inspections expected, industry stakeholders remain vigilant. Collaboration between authorities and the horticultural sector is essential to tackle the complexity of Brexit border controls and limit potential disruptions to supply chains.