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CHRISTMAS TREE SALES GROWING; Farmers to rake in EUR12million.

Byline: NICK BRAMHILL

IRELAND'S Christmas tree growers are set for plenty of festive cheer with sales worth more than EUR12million expected this year.

Despite dwindling household budgets, up to 450,000 of the living room centrepieces will be sold to Irish consumers, with another 300,000 being exported to the UK and continental Europe.

Although growers have to wait up to eight years to harvest their crop, a quality tree will always be recession-proof, according to Dermot Page, chairman of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers' Association.

Mr Page, who farms trees in west Wicklow, said: "People will always put away money for Christmas. And buying a Christmas tree is as essential as buying the turkey. If you can grow a good quality tree, there will be a demand for it." While Denmark is the largest producer of Christmas trees in Europe, the high-quality trees produced here, helped by a suitable climate and good seed cultivation, have made Ireland the biggest exporter of trees to the UK.

There is also strong demand from France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

More growers and wholesalers are coming into the market, attracted by what they see as strong and guaranteed returns.

Mr Page added: "It seems to be a growing market, with more people getting involved and lots of new wholesalers trying to get in.

"There may be a lot more trees around in years to come, but the quality ones will always sell."

Earlier this week a Deloitte survey revealed Irish consumers were the second biggest spenders at the festive season behind Luxembourg. And it's clear that Christmas trees are still top of the list of the average EUR1,020 festive budget.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Nov 15, 2010
Words:283
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