Big Opportunity In Edibles

Big Opportunity In Edibles 

Between the economic downturn facing the country and the desire of the consumer to obtain fresh produce that has not been tainted with chemicals, the edibles category has become the fastest growing sector of the green goods industry.

According to the National Gardening Association (NGA), 31 percent of all U.S. households (36 million) participated in some form of edibles gardening in 2008. And 43 million households planned to do some kind of edibles gardening in 2009–a whopping 19 percent increase. No other sector of green goods can claim anything close to these numbers. In fact, some would argue most categories are flat to declining. And it seems logical the 2010 edibles figures, along with the figures to come, will continue to show strong growth.

Although these numbers are impressive, it was apparent this spring there were a limited number of bedding plant growers participating in the growth of edibles. The dominant provider of vegetables to the national retailers is Bonnie Plant Farm, which serves all three national retailers coast to coast with minimal involvement from local growers. There are, however, some new programs and players entering the category, and this will bring more innovation and creativity to this fast-growing category.

Big Edibles Picture

While Bonnie Plants dominates, there are new entries like the Lowe’s “Grow Your Own” brand that is arguably the most extensive edible program. Plus, there’s Burpee Home Gardens. You would expect with Burpee’s consumer awareness and brand recognition, it will become a significant factor in the category.

There are also a few regional programs that are interesting and have a lot of potential. Chef Jeff’s, a regional brand sold only to independent garden centers, has some of the best packaging and POS materials, plus a good consumer website at ChefJeff.com.

In the Northwest, Smith Gardens developed two vegetable and herb brands that are organically grown: earthe and growe. Both have excellent packaging, labeling and POS materials.

Another organic branded program is Organiks from the Plug Connection in California. It seems to be more prevalent on the West Coast, although it has been seen at Pike Nursery locations in the Atlanta market.

New for the 2011 season is a Proven Selections program called Tasty Treats, a line of vegetables and herbs in a 288 plug tray sold as a 252 tray. The program has an extensive line of high-quality POS materials. The line is positioned as the best performing varieties that are the tastiest. Expect to see a lot of activity if highly promoted by the Proven Winners group.

More Than Herbs & Veggies

The edibles category is rapidly evolving into a broad spectrum that includes dwarf fruit trees, berries and items like onion sets, potato eyes and dormant strawberries. An area of edibles that seems to be somewhat untapped is the container sector and, according to NGA, 48 percent of all households have reported growing edibles in containers.

There seems to be a growing interest in berries, with many more blueberries, blackberries and raspberries appearing on retail shelves the last two seasons. One notable company that is a leading breeder of berries is Fall Creek Nursery. It’s developing dwarf berry plants that can flourish in a container or in the ground with attractive flowers, foliage and colorful canes.

Where’s The Money?

With annuals and perennials suffering from little to no growth, the edible category presents many opportunities for sales growth and is a highly profitable sector with increasing demand. When reviewing the current retail price points, it becomes clear there is little resistance to premium prices from the consumer as evidenced by the number of 1-gallon vegetables sold at $5 to $7 at the national retailers–and even higher at independent garden centers.

Consumers who live in urban areas often purchase one to three plants because of space limitations and seem to have little concern for the price point. After all, they will spend more on the container, soil, trellis and fertilizer.

Container gardening is a large sector in the edibles category, with 48 percent of consumers reporting they participated in container gardening of edibles. We all get excited about creating flowering container gardens and spend a lot of time trying to create the right recipes, but there seems to be little emphasis on creating compelling edibles containers.

There are many opportunities relative to creating compelling and profitable edibles containers, and it does not have to be a complicated process. Take for instance a 10-inch patio pot with one tomato and trailing annuals around the perimeter. This combination of edibles and annuals could help make very enticing displays at the point of purchase. What about adding marigolds that are perceived to be insect deterrents? Or planting a hanging basket with dwarf tomatoes and edge it with verbena?

Floranova has developed this incredible line of dwarf vegetables under the brand Vegetalis. Its vegetables are ideal for hanging baskets, mixed patio pots or used as individual varieties in small patio containers. With these types of varieties, low-cost, high-margin containers could easily be created. Imagine the sell-through potential with some really cool dwarf vegetables in a 7- or 8-inch container under $10 retail. There are some real opportunities in both patio edibles and mixing flowers and edibles.

Great Margins

In an environment of shrinking margins and flat demand, the edibles category is an area of growth and a category of some of the highest gross margins in a grower’s product portfolio. Considering the cost of perishable inputs, what other category has lower input costs?

Consider the difference between a 4.5-inch vegetative annual from an unrooted cutting (URC) with a grower cost of 25 cents with an average selling price of $3.98 retail. Compare that to a 4.5-inch vegetable from seed with a 3-cent grower cost and a $3.48 cost at retail, assuming the same grow times for each. A 10-inch patio pot with four URCs costing $1 compared to the same container with one tomato seed costing 3 cents clearly shows vegetables present great opportunities for increased margins.

The vegetables category is growing fast and brings in new gardeners. Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunities while giving consumers what they want.

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sales Manager

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From The Owners Of Costa Farms

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse Growers

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More
Latest Stories
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse G…

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Wenke Greenhouses Buys Zylstra Greenhouses

Two Kalamazoo, MI-based greenhouses have merged after Wenke Greenhouses closed on Zylstra Greenhouses at the end of November. The additional property and facilities will allow Wenke Greenhouses to expand its young plant business, among other areas.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Costa Farms Wins With Its Emphasis On Team, Solutions, …

Based in Miami, FL, Costa Farms has gone global by focusing on strategy, systems, and vertical integration. See how the operation continues to expand through its emphasis on team, solutions, and growth.

Read More

January 11, 2016

New Transportation Funding Bill Is Good News For Floric…

According to AmericanHort, perhaps the biggest benefit of the new bill is what it doesn’t include: a proposed amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds for vegetative enhancements.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Gardeners of all ages enjoyed the annual plant sale at McCorkle Nurseries

December 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Explains Why People Will Always Want To …

We may believe that an appreciation for gardening and plants is rapidly draining away, but there is reason to hope.

Read More
Canadian Greenhouse Conference 2015

December 21, 2015

Presentations From Canadian Greenhouse Conference Avail…

Many of the talks that took place at this year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Ontario focused on improving production efficiencies in the greenhouse.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

December 7, 2015

How The Finalized Produce Safety Rule Will Affect Green…

While the new rule from FDA has many exemptions that will likely apply to greenhouse growers, the reality is that buyers may still require strict adherence to food safety standards.

Read More
Smith Gardens Marysville outdoor field production

November 30, 2015

Why Smith Gardens’ Marysville, WA, Facility Is A Great …

Labor rates in Washington State are some of the highest in the nation, making competition for labor fierce. This is why Smith Gardens in Marysville, WA, wants to strengthen its reputation as a great place to work.

Read More
Great Lakes Expo

November 30, 2015

6 Reasons You Should Attend The Michigan Greenhouse Gro…

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, held Dec. 8-10 in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo, will feature an expansive trade show and several educational sessions aimed at greenhouse growers.

Read More

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS…

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Jill Calabro

November 3, 2015

AmericanHort Names New Research And Science Programs Di…

Jill Calabro will bring strategic direction and oversight to research funding by the Horticultural Research Institute, the research affiliate of AmericanHort.

Read More
SBI’s ANY Device Application allows growers to quickly determine availability-featuer

November 2, 2015

SBI Software’s Solutions Help Simplify Logistics For G…

The company focuses on helping growers improve their existing processes with solutions for site fulfillment, replenishment, inventory management and more.

Read More
Griffin Expo15 seminar

October 28, 2015

Griffin’s Hits Record Attendance With 2015 Expos,…

Griffin Greenhouse Supplies set new attendance records with its 2015 Expos. Its 2016 Expos are set for August 31 and September 1, 2016, in West Springfield, Mass., and September 21-22, 2016, in Lancaster, Penn.

Read More

October 28, 2015

Possum Run Greenhouses Taken Over By New Owners

Justin and Lynn Marotta have placed Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts into the hands of new owners. John and Caroline Bletner, a newly married couple, took over the Bellville, Ohio, property October 2, according to an October 24 article in the Mansfield News Journal. The Marotta family has run Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts for 41 years. When the Marottas announced in April the greenhouse operation was for sale, they said they were looking for an energetic couple to take the business to the next level, which is what they found in the Bletners, the article reports. The Bletners have hinted they’ll be “opening to a larger market” and that the retail side will “look different.” They’ll hold a grand re-opening the week of April 22, 2016. Staff are staying on board and the Bletners are maintaining many of the suppliers. The 200-plus varieties of fuchsias Justin brought to the greenhouse […]

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