Peat is playing an increasingly important role in modern facility gardening. How is China’s peat market developing? Recently, HortidailyChina interviewed Professor Meng Xianmin from the Peat Research Institute of Northeast Normal University. Professor Meng currently serves as the executive vice president of the Peat Industry Branch of the China Humic Acid Industry Association. His main responsibilities are to promote the construction of Chinese and foreign peat supply chains, promote Sino-foreign cooperation in peat technology, talents, information and resources, and ensure the progress of modern horticultural technology in China and the improvement of cultivated land quality.
“China’s peat market demand needs to be improved”
According to Professor Meng, domestic peat is mainly used for seedling production. As the demand for seedling production substrate is low, the total demand for peat is not high. The main market for peat demand is substrate cultivation and the improvement of cultivated land quality. In the European and American markets, peat is used for 17% of seedling substrate production, 34% for fruit and vegetable substrate production, and 5% for soil conditioner production. In the Chinese market, peat is used for more than 80% of seedling substrate production, but very little is used for cultivation substrate production and soil conditioner production. China, as a country with a large population and production and consumption of fruits and vegetables, has increasingly serious soil degradation, abuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, urgent tasks of soil improvement and restoration, and huge potential of peat for the production of soil conditioners.
At the same time, the construction of smart greenhouses in China is just emerging. Affected by the low cultivation technology, shortage of professionals and the low market price of fruit and vegetable products, the proportion of fruit and vegetable products and leafy vegetables produced by substrate cultivation is relatively low. Rock wool cultivation methods, hydroponics methods, or cocopeat cultivation methods require less peat substrate. At present, the main crops for substrate cultivation in China are strawberry, blueberry, and other berry crops. Although the area grows rapidly, the demand for substrate quantity and quality is relatively high. Due to the late start of domestic substrate preparation, the products currently used in the large-scale market are mainly imported high-end substrates.
On the other hand, the total amount of peat in China is scarce and the types are limited. In recent years, the state has vigorously advocated scientific and technological innovation, green development, consumption upgrading, and rural revitalization, which has created a significant demand for peat resources and peat substrates, and the substrate industry will also accelerate its development. Due to the huge population, the staggering demand for vegetables, and the continuous awakening of public food safety awareness, the demand for peat in substrate seedling, substrate cultivation, and soil improvement for fruit and vegetable tea cultivation is increasing. Since 2015, the production and sales of imported peat and domestic peat in China have increased by 40% every year. By the end of 2021, the annual sales of peat in China have reached 4 million cubic meters. In the next 10 years, the production and sales of peat in China will reach 50 million cubic meters.
“Peat development also needs to overcome financial, technical, cost and market challenges”
The rapid expansion of peat applications in China also requires overcoming financial, technological, cost and market challenges. It requires huge investment in building smart greenhouses, training greenhouse workers, drastically reducing peat costs, and significantly increasing market prices for agricultural products. Professor Meng said that in terms of reducing the import cost of peat, his association has effectively reduced the cost of imported peat by promoting the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council to reduce taxes and fees on imported peat and substrate products. They hope to eventually completely eliminate customs duties and VAT on peat imports to truly benefit users.
In terms of improving domestic substrate preparation technology, with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, they have compiled industry standards for peat substrate products, promoted the unification of peat and substrate testing items and testing methods in China and the EU, promoted the upgrading of domestic substrate preparation technology, and enhanced domestic substrate production.
At the same time, by vigorously promoting the localization of substrates, continuously reducing the cost of substrates, reducing the cost of using peat for users, and promoting the continued expansion of the area and scale of substrate cultivation, they also actively promote the close cooperation between Chinese enterprises and suppliers in relevant countries, build a global peat supply chain, strive to achieve free flow, efficient allocation and deep market integration of peat resources with relevant countries, and promote the whole industry chain, high-level and deep-level cooperation. Except for the past three years with the pandemic influence, the associat8ion organized a European peat technology mission every year, hold a national peat technology seminar and a peat product exposition every year, and continuously promote the technology, resources, talents, and information cooperation between China’s peat industry and the European and American peat industry.
With the rapid implementation of China’s non-traditional space fruit and vegetable planting technology, the continuous development of green city concepts and scenarios, and the inclusion of arable land quality and ecological restoration projects into the national 14.5 plan, China’s peat industry will usher in an era of scale, green and quality. The vigorous development of green cities, landscaping, environmental restoration, and home gardening has also brought unprecedented business opportunities to the peat industry, and the demand for quality and quantity of peat products is accelerating. Bringing the production of vegetable flowers and berries closer to consumers, shortening the supply chain and eliminating middlemen is a business model not only for food but also for the thriving vegetable and flower supply in urban households.
For more information:
China Humic Acid Industry Association Peat Industry Branch