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...
Obscura Screens From Svensson feature

July 28, 2016

3 New Products For Cannabis Producers

From screens to fertilizers to lighting, here are three new products that might help enhance your cannabis production system.

Read More
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Advance Industry’s Policy Priorities In Washington

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Obscura Screens From Svensson feature

July 28, 2016

3 New Products For Cannabis Producers

From screens to fertilizers to lighting, here are three new products that might help enhance your cannabis production system.

Read More
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More

July 19, 2016

Do You Grow Young Plants? Only 4 Days Left To Take Our …

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at [email protected], or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 25, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Grower Education

July 7, 2016

Two Industry Veterans Discuss How To Meet The Challenge…

Two industry players have a conversation on how we can deliver the level of grower education needed to address complex issues associated with production practices and pest management strategies.

Read More
Briscoe White, Growers Exchange

July 6, 2016

The Grower’s Exchange Unlocks The Secret to E-Commerce

In the Internet era, Briscoe and Kenan White knew they had to adapt or die and specialize to survive. Here’s how they took The Grower’s Exchange online.

Read More
Brie Arthur

July 6, 2016

5 Can’t-Miss Events To Watch For At Farwest 2016

Whether it’s classes on biocontrols and gardening trends, or networking opportunities in and around the trade show floor, there’s plenty happening at Farwest 2016 in Portland, OR, in August.

Read More
'Violets Pride' from Week's Roses Downton Abbey Garden Rose Collection

July 6, 2016

6 Key Insights From The Generations Of Flowers Study

Being local and offering expert recommendations are hidden opportunities in the floral business. This was one of six insights during a recent webinar analyzing the Generations of Flowers study from the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Joe Lamp'l

July 1, 2016

Gardening Personality Joe Lamp’l Will Be Keynote Speake…

Lamp’l, who hosts the PBS series “Growing a Greener World,” will discuss effective ways to build your business and keep your customers.

Read More
Cannabis states 2016

July 1, 2016

Adult Use Of Cannabis On The Ballot In 2016

25 states have legalized cannabis and public opinion is increasingly positive. Here’s where things may be headed as we move toward the fall elections.

Read More
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its…

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]