Mistletoe sales – a measure of economic recovery?

US economic news organisation Marketplace visited the Tenbury Well Mistletoe Auctions a week or so ago, for a radio broadcast discussing whether mistletoe sales reflect post-covid economic recovery here in the UK. The general feeling at the auctions was upbeat, which is great – though bear in mind this was recorded just before the Omicron variant hit the news.

marketplace1Marketplace’s UK reporter Stephen Beard presents the piece, interviewing auctioneer Nick Champion, Festival organiser Diann Dowell and several buyers. Plus myself, pictured on their website with mistletoe in the back garden here in Gloucestershire.

It’s only a short piece, just over 4 minutes long, and well worth a listen – direct link to it is https://www.marketplace.org/2021/12/13/will-brits-embrace-economic-recovery-under-the-mistletoe-this-christmas/

If you’re curious about who Marketplace are (I certainly was) you can find out more on their website – they are a public service broadcaster with a mission to improve economic knowledge through accessible radio journalism. They say they have

“the most widely consumed business and economic news programs in the country. With more than 14 million weekly listeners on more than 800 local public radio stations nationwide and millions more across our digital platforms, we’ve changed the way people think about the economy.”

So probably worth bookmarking their website (or setting your smartspeaker) for more than the occasional mistletoe story.

Mistletoe sales

Nick Champion’s reports of this season’s mistletoe auctions are now available.  As usual, these don’t give much detail, so don’t get excited: 

First auction, 23rd November 2021

“The mistletoe was of better quality [than the holly] and met a solid demand.”

    • 1st Quality Mistletoe fetched up to £3.50 per kg with an average of £2.50 per kg
    • 2nd Quality Mistletoe fetched up to £1.50 per kg with an average of £1.00 per kg

Second auction, 30th November 2021

“…whilst mistletoe was a firm trade although average prices would be a touch less than last week. A ball of mistletoe achieved £100…”

    • 1st Quality Mistletoe fetched up to £3.50 per kg with an average of £2.50 per kg
    • 2nd Quality Mistletoe fetched up to £1.50 per kg with an average of £1.00 per kg
mistletoetavistock3rddec2021
Mistletoe on sale in Tavistock, Devon, today.

As I said, not a lot of detail.  The most interesting snippet is the reference to a ball of mistletoe sold for £100.  Most of the mistletoe sold at the auctions is cut from natural growths and then bundled up to form the lots.  A ball of mistletoe is a whole growth, uncut, often with the host branch still attached.  Really good versions of these can be very attractive and suitable for big venues; hotels, ballrooms etc.  The main worry with them is their fragility – mistletoe branches are very brittle.  This is not a problem when dangling on a tree but when sitting on the ground they they can be damaged very easily by their own weight.  A few years ago I was involved in shipping these whole growths to clients across the UK – packing them was always a nightmare.  And each one used a lot of ‘FRAGILE’ and ‘THIS WAY UP’ parcel tape.  Never had any complaints though, so we must have done it reasonably well.   

Going back to the auction prices those are, of course, wholesale prices so don’t relate to prices in shops.  Prices in shops might be similar in money, but for much smaller quantities – as the picture above shows – £1.99 for a small bunch, not a kilogram.  And that price is, I would say, very good value.  


Don’t want to buy mistletoe?  Grow your own with a Mistletoe Grow-Kit from the English Mistletoe Shop.

The tip-jar (new for 2021, never tried this before!)

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Mistletoe Auction Time

trading6The first Mistletoe Auction of the year takes place tomorrow morning, which to many means the proper start of the mistletoe season.

The auctions are run by Nick Champion and are held at at Burford House Garden Centre, Burford, Tenbury Wells, WR15 8HQ.  Details on Nick’s website nickchampion.co.uk but shortcut for buyers is nickchampion.co.uk/site/assets/files/1015/buyers_information_2021.pdf and for sellers (too late for tomorrow now but there’s another next week!) is nickchampion.co.uk/site/assets/files/1015/sellers_information_2021.pdf.

IMG_20211122_145853The berries are already nice and white – and  there’ll be more mistletoe news here soon.