‘Regional’ and ‘organic’ were the keywords that kept coming back in almost every part of the programme during the 10th Home Garden Conference that took place on 4-5th September in Switzerland. Approx. 85 professionals in the home garden industry from The Netherlands, Germany, U.K., France, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium gathered to get acquainted with the Swiss green market, be inspired by best practices and exchange market knowledge.
The conference was jointly hosted by our member Wyss Samen und Pflanzen, a unique family owned company in its 5th generation and key player in the Swiss horticultural market and associate member Media Concept, a Swiss green marketing agency.
Wyss caters for the entire Swiss Market
Hans Walter Müller, Board member, opened the conference with an overview of Wyss’ rich history, the current objectives and his view towards the future. This was complemented by a half day visit to the company’s headquarters in Zuchwil. Wyss offers vegetable and flower seeds/young plants to growers nationwide. Under the label ‘Select’, a full range of seeds and bulbs for the hobby gardener is for sale at retailers across the country. The extensive gardens in Zuchwill serve as a trial location for new varieties and are a living catalogue for professional and private customers.
In addition to their headquarters and garden centre in Zuchwil, the company has four further garden centres and one city shop. More than 90% of the plants sold are grown in Switzerland and the garden centre turnover is generated by more than 50% of living green. The Wyss Garden Academy aims at educating the consumer; over 6000 customers participated in a class/workshop in 2019.
Swiss retail urges breeders to go bio
Robert Wacker Managing Director at Media Concept Schweiz provided the delegates with an extensive overview of the Swiss green market highlighting that the Swiss consumption of BIO products per capita is very high compared to other European countries. In addition, he presented some successful green concepts such as Mission B, a national media campaign aiming at increasing biodiversity at consumer level. Elaborating on this theme, Paolo Balzarini, category field manager Plants at MIGROS, a Swiss group of regional retail cooperatives, explained to what extent BIO has become the new standard in their garden centres. All plants sold are regionally and organically grown. He urged breeders to develop pest resistant genetics that can live up to these new production standards. Moreover, plants should be more drought tolerant to enable production in a peat-free environment.
Furthermore, the delegation was introduced to Pro Specie Rara, a Swiss initiative aiming at the preservation of local plants and animals. By sowing, growing and selecting, numerous volunteers help to maintain heirloom ornamental, vegetable and fruit varieties. The programme included a visit to the gardens of the organisation’s headquarters in Basel.
Finally, Pharmedic gave insights into the growing market of cannabis for medicinal use specifically in the Swiss Market which differs in legislation from most of Europe. Wyss is a supplier of young plants to Pharmedic and one of the current challenges this industry faces is the maintenance of stable and uniform plants.