9 Tips To Maximize Your Greenhouse Vegetable Market Potential

Greenhouse Vegetable MarketingLearning how to give yourself a competitive edge in today’s marketplace is essential if you plan to stay in business for the long term.

Several marketing considerations need to be thought through before launching full speed into your greenhouse business. Bridget Behe from the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University has rounded up nine key tips to help maximize the success of your operation in today’s bustling market.

1. Get the proper facilities.

One of the first things any grower should consider, Behe says, is whether or not you have the facilities and the expertise to jump into business.

“Ask yourself, ‘Am I going to be able to do this in a cost-effective manner that’s going to generate profit?’” she says.For example, while you may have ample greenhouse space, is it a “good fit” for the crop you want to grow? Also, make sure that all aspects of food safety are in place, as well as the logistics of transportation, and even short-term storage space, if you plan on storing your produce.

2 Know the local flavors.

Because of the surging popularity of locally grown produce, Behe stresses the importance of getting to know what consumers in your area like to eat.

“Think about some of the local flavors. What vegetables are a part of the local cuisine, and how might they be prepared?” she mentions.

Behe says it can be difficult to introduce an entirely new vegetable to the consumers’ palate, and, to that end, suggests producing different colors, sizes, shapes, or varieties of vegetables that are already in the marketplace. For example, colored carrots, eggplants, or tomatoes play on the novelty factor and set yourself apart from the competition.

3. Determine the best profit window.

By getting around to local farmers’ markets, grocery stores, or seeing what’s being offered through CSAs, you can get a close look at what’s being presented at what times, and make the decision to reach that window just a few weeks ahead of time, Behe says.

“That’s usually when people are primed to pay a little bit more. They get hungry for fresh produce just before it comes into season. That’s usually your best opportunity to have a potential for greatest profit,” she explains.

4. Fill in the gaps.

Behe says that some restaurants can be a prime market, and for that reason there’s a lot of competition. In order to set yourself apart, ask the restaurant if there’s anything they need that they’re not currently getting, and see if it’s possible to produce it. However, before you decide to plant these crops, she cautions that there may be a reason no one is growing it.

“There may be challenges in production and shipping. There could be a whole host of reasons why they can’t get that product at that time, but it’s certainly a great place to start,” she says.

5. Put your customers first.

Whether you’re working with restaurants or in retail, it’s very important to make sure your clients’ needs are being met and you can do it profitably.

“Restaurants are going through a labor crisis just like any other business. You have to think strategically about what you can do to save them some time. It’s not just about knowing a product is in demand, but it’s also knowing how big of a package they need, how to clean it, etc.” she explains. That being said, if you can’t take the step in a cost-effective manner, it may not be worth doing it.

The process is similar on the retail end. If the retailer is selling directly to the end user, consider how the retailer might merchandise that product. Perhaps you can design packaging that allows for a nice display to help stimulate sales.

“The things you can do to create value for the next step in the channel is really the best way to differentiate yourself when a lot of people are growing the same thing,” Behe says.

6. Know Your Demographics.

By using the free U.S. Census website American Fact Finder, you can look up zip codes and get demographic information such as the gender break down, household income, ethnic composition, and so on, that can help you determine the demand side of your business equation.

“Start to get a picture of who lives in your backyard, what he or she eats or would eat, and then what is available, what might be made available, and if you can do that at a profit,” Behe says. “This will help with product selection, package size, and some other marketing decisions.”

7. Offer consistent supply.

For large-scale operations, customers often do not want to deal with a lot of change. Be sure to ask yourself if you can supply product consistently in terms of quantity and quality, and be sure to properly size up your capacity for production.

If you have any concerns, Behe suggests potentially pairing up with another grower ally who could help carry some of the production weight.

“Together you may be able to use the same production scheduling and produce a similar quantity and quality. For example, develop a partnership where you can do peppers, and [the other grower] can do tomatoes, then together you can have a consistent and substantial supply,” she says.

8. Follow through with customers.

Another key practice is to get valuable feedback about your products. If you’re going through a wholesaler or a broker, ask them what they’re seeing in terms of regional food trends or national food trends.

“As the product flows from the grower to the end user, you’ve got to remember to get that information. For example, how are things selling? How are things tasting? How was the quality upon receipt?” she says. That information is invaluable for future planning.

9. Fail safely.

Lastly, Behe says that “failing in a safe way” is perfectly fine and, in fact, a good way to get to know what works and what doesn’t for your business.

“I think businesses should always have some ‘play money,’” she says. “Continue to do experiments and try different things to see what your next step is. Not every experiment needs to be successful. Give yourself space and time to try things; what you might try next may be the next profitable crop.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Socius Webinar

March 30, 2017

Webinar to Offer Tips on Properly Managing Your Business for Growth

“How to Survive and Thrive: New Revenue Building Tools for Growers,” presented by Socius, takes place on April 6.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Confidence

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers to Your Greenhouse?

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Latest Stories
Socius Webinar

March 30, 2017

Webinar to Offer Tips on Properly Managing Your Busines…

“How to Survive and Thrive: New Revenue Building Tools for Growers,” presented by Socius, takes place on April 6.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Leanne Kenealy, Hoffman Nursery

March 24, 2017

New Horticulturist At Hoffman Nursery Will Focus On Dev…

Leanne Kenealy, who brings great experience in plant evaluation, says introducing consumers to new plants can hopefully generate renewed excitement for gardening.

Read More

March 21, 2017

How Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Can Prepare for a Prod…

The United Fresh Produce Association is holding a Recall Ready Workshop in April that is designed to help growers properly manage a recall, from liability to communications.

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

March 14, 2017

Expanded Customer Footprint, E-Commerce, Succession Key…

Costa Farms' acquisition of indoor foliage producer Delray Plants rocked the industry, but the story behind Delray Plants' sale is the same as for many growers struggling with succession planning. For Costa Farms, the strategic purchase expands its customer footprint and also fast tracks its foray into e-commerce.

Read More
Steve Black and Bridget Behe

March 14, 2017

AmericanHort’s First-Ever CareerUP Event to Take Place …

CareerUP is a day-long workshop that is designed to provide the skills, information, and inspiration that young professionals need to advance their careers, love their jobs, and help the industry grow.

Read More
Horticultural Research Institute Logo

March 12, 2017

Horticulture Research Institute Rings in New Year With …

More than 150 industry professionals attended a reception at MANTS, which introduced new officers and celebrated the more than $190,000 in donations for HRI research fostering business-building knowledge for the horticultural industry.

Read More

March 10, 2017

Costa Farms Expands With Purchase of Indoor Houseplant …

Costa Farms annnounced March 10 that it has acquired Delray Plants, one of the leaders in the indoor houseplant industry. The two operations are committed to the same values, principles, and goals to grow the industry, and will fit well together to accomplish this, say Randy Gilde, CEO of Delray Plants, and Joche Smith, CEO of Costa Farms.

Read More
Startup Stock Photos

March 10, 2017

Passionate Horticulture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team

GreenhouseGrower.com is looking for people to join our team and submit original content to our website about floriculture and greenhouse production of emerging crops.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Egon and Laina Molbak

March 7, 2017

American Floral Endowment Receives Major Contribution t…

AFE recently announced that it has received a $100,000 contribution from Egon and Laina Molbak, the founders and long-time owners of Molbak’s Garden + Home outside of Seattle.

Read More
Ken and Deena Altman

March 7, 2017

Altman Plants in Escrow to Purchase EuroAmerican Propag…

Ken Altman, a co-owner of Altman Plants based in Vista, CA, has confirmed that the operation is currently in escrow to purchase EuroAmerican Propagators, the Bonsall, CA-based young plant and finished plant grower that filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on Jan. 23, 2017. Ken and Deena Altman are co-owners of Altman Plants and The Plug Connection, along with their son Matthew, who has recently bought into the family business. The 55 acres of land and all of the facilities on it, which were previously owned by Jerry Church, a partner in EuroAmerican Propagators, are part of the purchase agreement currently in escrow, Altman says. However, it would not be absorbed by Altman Plants, which in 2016 was number 3 on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers list with more than 11 million square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse production, 62 acres of shade production, and 400 acres of outdoor field production. Altman Plants’ property […]

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More
North Creek Tim McGinty Steve Castorini

February 24, 2017

AmericanHort Names New Board Members and Officers for 2…

The new board members are Steve Castorani of North Creek Nurseries, Tom Hughes of Hughes Nursery and Landscaping, and Cole Mangum of Bell Nursery.

Read More
EAGL Graduates

February 22, 2017

Emerging Industry Leaders Earn Business Management Cert…

Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair for International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, recently announced the graduation of the fourth cohort of the elite Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program for nursery and greenhouse growers.

Read More