Iberflora interviews Oleguer Bures, president of the Association of Soil and Substrate Preparers (APTYS) and manager of Burés, a substrate marketing company with a long history in the sector. Iberflora analyzes with him what is the current situation of the sector of land and substrate preparers. Every year, Iberflora will be the place chosen by APTYS to hold its annual convention.
The closure of some peatlands and a smaller peat harvest than in the previous year were already straining prices by the end of 2021, But, also, the generalized inflation of recent months has further triggered the cost of these products and all the auxiliary products (plastics, Pallets, cartonnage, etc.). How do Oleguer Bures assess the sales campaign of substrate companies in 2022?
What has been the increase in the cost of production of substrate suppliers nationwide? Has this increase been transferred to the final consumer?
A poor peat harvest in 2021 generated some tensions in the sector because during some moments there has been little availability and some suppliers have not been able to supply peat. Nonetheless, the peat supply problems ended when the campaign was closed in May. 2022. Right now they are in full harvest and it is early to predict how this campaign will go. Sales for 2022 have been slightly below 2021. The demand for plants and gardening products, in general, grew a lot in 2021 due to the pandemic as people could not leave home. The positive part is that the numbers for 2022 have been slightly above sales of 2019, the pre-pandemic year.
"In the last year we have suffered problems of increasing costs of sea freight of containers, added to an increase in the price of fuels that increases the prices of transport and machinery to process the product. Moreover, it is clear that the increase in inflation will eventually translate into an increase in prices for our customers that will have a direct impact on the consumer in general., even though companies have adjusted margins to the maximum. Packaging is a separate issue because behind it there is labor, the depreciation of installations, plus the increase in plastic prices." Over the past year, this increase was greater than 20% and, even, in some types of plastic the rise reached a 40% of increase in its price.
Effectively, the increase has reached the final consumer because there is no other remedy. The increases are too high for any company to take on. Moreover, it must be taken into account that the fees on plastic waste that will enter into force next year will raise, again, the price of packaged substrates.
What the expectations of the companies are for the next campaign?
Right now it's too early to predict what's going to happen., we are in the midst of a new harvest (usually the collection of peat is carried out from May until the end of September) and we can't predict what's going to happen, although the messages that come to us are optimistic. Regarding other raw materials for manufacturing substrates, there is no incidence except coconut due to rising transport prices that will make coconut-based substrates more expensive.
Substrate preparation companies have been working for years in R&D to offer more sustainable products. Some of them base their action on the renaturalization of peatlands, while others opt for more sustainable substrates based on coconut fiber, Woods, mulch, and volcanic gravel.
Will we see in the coming years the use of peat replaced by other more sustainable materials?
"In Spain, precisely, we are pioneers in alternative substrates to peat because here we have very little and we have always had to look for other options. For example, vegetable compost has a general predominance in gardening lands. On the other hand, there is the coconut that we have introduced years ago, although now its growth is slowing down due to the high costs of bringing it from India and Sri Lanka. Alternatives such as wood fibers have been emerging strongly for some years now. They say they are more sustainable, but in reality, the energy cost to obtain them is very high. Therefore, we should study whether peat or wood fiber is more sustainable. But what is clear is that it enters the market strongly., it is being used more and more and is a clear alternative to peat and coconut and that, Nowadays, is present in many of the substrate manufacturers."
APTYS has a constant presence in every edition of Iberflora, as a meeting place between associates that promotes professional relations.
What plans does the association have for the next edition of the contest?
"Iberflora is a great showcase to show all the news of the sector and, for years, our partners are regular exhibitors. Substrates are one of the most represented sectors at the Valencian fair, with the largest stands, after those of the plants. and, in this edition, as in previous years, APTYS celebrate our annual convention, making it coincide with the fair and taking advantage to carry it out in the same facilities and, A) Yes, organize the face-to-face meeting with our partners."
Iberflora is preparing a new, more experiential, and innovative concept in 2022, Iberflora New Generation, an event to work, but also to learn and have fun. Has Oleguer heard of Iberflora New Generation?
What do expect from the next edition of Iberflora?
"Iberflora is an excellent meeting place for professionals and friends of the sector, a space to learn and train and the best showcase both nationally and internationally. Moreover, year after year the fair surprises us with the latest innovations and the Iberflora New Generation is the next step to becoming a more experiential fair. Therefore, we are discussing from the association how we can collaborate, because from APTYS we are interested in everything that is the promotion of the sector. We desire that the influx of visitors to the fair grows year after year and we will help as much as possible to make it so. In the face of this next edition of Iberflora we hope to recover to the maximum the normality that we have lost in the last editions due to Covid and, of course, exceed the numbers of the influx of public in the pre-pandemic registers."
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