As you may be aware, over the past 18 months there have been signifcant price rises in the cost of global shipping, as well as raw and manufactured goods across industries. The landscaping business has been particularly affected as we use a wide range of materials from agregates to timber to metals, as well as of course plants.
Some of the price changes have been pretty extreme:
The cost of treated timber such as fencing, decking timber, etc has gone up 100-200% since Decmber 2019. Staples of the industry, such as fence posts have gone from ~£8.50 to ~£22-25, and feather edge boards from £0.90 to £2.50+
Metals, used extensively in planters and lawn/bed edging, have gone up by up 30%
Plants have seen price rises of between 20-50%
Stone and aggregates, which have been pretty stable until recently, have started to show some significant upward price pressure.
So why is this happening? There are 3 main reasons:
Global shipping rates have increased exponentially, due to high demand as pent up consumer demand from the last 18 years starts to unwind, as well as a shortage of containers. As en example,mshipping rates from India (a source of much of the stone we use in the UK) have gone up by a staggering 360% in the last 6 months.
Brexit has impacted the horticulture industry as many plants are imported from Holland and Italy, causing shortages, delays and therefore higher prices.
High timber demand and low supply. Massive demand both during lockdown when furloughed workers were replacing fences, doing DIY etc, and the successive opening and closing of saw mills around the world has created a huge disconnect between supply and demand. Timber, like other commodities, is traded globally, so no one conuntry is immune. Below is a chart showing the price of timber futures over the last 2 years.
There now is some talk in the industry that raw material producers and some processors are deliberately creating scarcity to maintian high prices, however whether this is true of not, the net result on costs remains the same.
A final factor that that needs to be mentioned are wage costs which are also moving up. You may have heard about this on the news, and its due to various factors, not least of which is EU citizens going home during the pandemic and not returning. We have always been a Living Wage Foundation Acredditied Employer, and this year raised our baseline wages to the London Living Wage as opposed to the National Living Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation not the government's "living wage"). We believe this is the right thing to do based on the living costs in Cambridge, as well as to offer compensation that attracts the best candidates. We also continue to offer training and development to all our team.
We have been, and continue to, search for the best availble prices from suppliers without compromising on quality, and to do what we can to mitigate price increases. That said, we are not immune to these trends and therefore felt it was appropriate to inform our clients via this post of what is happening and why.