The Ardennes Union of Nurserymen (UAP) is raising the alarm over a thorny issue in the Belgian festive season - Christmas tree sales.
"IKEA is ruining the market in Belgium and France and forcing the price of Christmas trees down," Jonathan Rigaux, the president of UAP, condemned in an interview given to Sudpresse newspapers on Friday.
Belgium is the third biggest producer-exporter of Christmas trees in Europe after Germany and Denmark, Rigaux observed, estimating that "85% of Belgian production is for export."
Times are hard for the profession, explains Rigaux. For the past two years, many nurserymen have worked for nothing as their production is seeing no profit. Sooner or later it will be necessary "to come round to adjusting prices because they are no longer sustainable in the long term," added Rigaux.
A major reason for this, according to Rigaux, is the giant Swedish low-cost home furnishings IKEA, who "is ruining the market in Belgium and France and forcing prices down."
"Out of the 64 nurserymen in the UAP, there is only one supplying IKEA, the remaining trees come from the east where Christmas trees are produced on a totally industrial scale. IKEA have been sold 400,000 of these trees, imagine the good that would do for our nurserymen if these 400,000 fir trees were sold by our producers," Rigaux pointed out.
"This really is a situation I deplore at a time when short supply chains have never been talked about so much," he determined.
The Brussels Times