Scottish daffodil growers are facing a dilemma this week as they watch around £1 million worth of flowers wither in the fields while other companies continue to take advantage of strong supermarket demand.
Farm directors of the Grampian Growers co-operative based at Montrose unanimously took the “moral and ethical” decision last week to stop picking daffodils, despite receiving no clear guidance from the Scottish Government or Police Scotland.
However, other flower businesses are continuing with their harvest to meet pre-Easter demand from supermarkets, excluding Sainsbury’s and the Co-op which delisted all horticultural produce in response to Covid-19.
Grampian Growers managing director Mark Clark said it would be possible to comply with social spacing requirements in the company’s pack house and fields – where pickers could be up to six metres apart – and he appealed for clarity as 3.6 million bunches of daffodils ripen in the fields.
Mr Clark said the company had been in discussion with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland all weekend and it would be up to Grampian Growers directors to decide what to do once they get a definitive answer on whether or not they are allowed to operate.
“It’s very unlikely we will change our decision, and 70% of our pickers have understandably already gone home to Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania, but there are other businesses still picking,” he said.
“We’ve lost a million bunches over the last three days but we’re putting lives and safety above everything.
“However, this huge inconsistency is putting the whole industry in limbo.”
Export markets to America and Europe have closed and Grampian Growers now face writing off the remainder of the annual harvest.