Oregon nursery industry reports 17 percent sales decline

By Oregon Association of Nurseries,

Wilsonville, Ore – Yearly sales of Oregon nursery products declined 17 percent between 2007 and 2008, according to new figures recently released by the Oregon field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Oregon nurseries sold $820 million worth of plants in 2008, down from the previous year’s figure of $988 million. This marked the first-ever year-to-year sales decline since officials started tracking sales in 1990. The sour economy was the main factor pushing sales downward, according to John Aguirre, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

“As these sobering numbers show, our industry has suffered the ill effects of the recession like everyone else,” he said. “Nonetheless, Oregon remains a leading supplier of plant material to most of North America.”

Large and small nurseries alike suffered the effects of the downturn. Nurseries grossing more than $2 million annually, which on average pay the highest wages and employ the greatest number of workers, accounted for 72 percent of the state’s sales, and suffered a 17 percent decline. The smallest nurseries – those with less than $20,000 in gross sales – reported a 57 percent decline.

“While container-grown plant material led the way in terms of overall sales with some $406.3 million, the year-over-year trend shows that growers whose material primarily serves the landscape trade – balled and burlapped plants in particular – experienced the greatest decline,” said Aguirre. “Most in our industry believe this is due to the falloff in new housing starts.””

Greenhouse growers, whose product lines often include vegetable starts and annual color plants, held strong in light of the down economy, with only an 8 percent decline over the previous year. These products are popular with consumers due to generally lower unit costs, and consumer demand for edibles was very strong in 2008.

Statistics show that Oregon-growers continue to provide plant material to growers, distributors, and garden centers across the country. Just 25.6 percent of Oregon grown plants are sold in Oregon; the rest are bound for other states. More than 18.7 percent go to the Upper Midwest, 13 percent to the Northeast, and 10 percent to Washington state. Nearly 9 percent of Oregon plant material is sold to other Western states, including the Rockies, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii, and 8.5 percent heads for Atlantic states. California receives 6.8 percent of Oregon plant material, and the rest is sold to Gulf States, Canada, and other international destinations.

Nurseries remain a major economic contributor in the state’s most populated areas. The majority of Oregon’s 2,130 nurseries operating in 2008 were concentrated in five counties closest to the Portland metropolitan area: Marion, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill and Multnomah. These five counties accounted for 84 percent of Oregon’s nursery sales.

While an upswing in overall sales is not likely to occur until the economy recovers, Aguirre remained optimistic about the strength of the industry as a whole. “Oregon has the perfect climate for a variety of nursery products, and our members remain steadfast in pursuing innovation and excellence through these difficult times,” Aguirre said.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Peters, 503-682-5089 or [email protected].

# # # The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,300 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon’s ornamental horticulture industry is among the state’s largest agricultural commodities, with annual sales of $820 million. For information visit our Web site at www.oan.org or call 503-682-5089.

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