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...
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, Efficiency Of Its Grower Vertical System

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Battlefield Farms Company shot

June 14, 2016

Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of The Year

Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, VA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Innovation award for 2016.

Read More

June 7, 2016

Ball Seed Offers Full Mobile Ordering Capabilities With Updated WebTrack To Go App

The latest update for Ball Seed’s WebTrack To Go mobile app now includes full ordering capabilities for the industry’s largest assortment of seeds and plants. App users can also complete order fulfillment via seed count or package size, find product substitutions, get personalized “contact us” information, request plant tags, and more. “Upgrading WebTrack To Go to the full suite of ordering and management tools is where we’ve always wanted to be,” says Mark Morris, Director of IT for Ball Seed. “With this new roll-out, we’re keeping up with our customers on-the-go and providing them the information and access they need –- even while away from their desks.” The Ball Seed WebTrack To Go app lets customers: Check order status and shipment tracking 24-7 Access up-to-the-minute product inventory from hundreds of suppliers Place orders by seed count, packet size, and more Find product info, culture and photos when and where they […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, E…

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Battlefield Farms Company shot

June 14, 2016

Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of T…

Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, VA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Innovation award for 2016.

Read More

June 7, 2016

Ball Seed Offers Full Mobile Ordering Capabilities With…

The latest update for Ball Seed’s WebTrack To Go mobile app now includes full ordering capabilities for the industry’s largest assortment of seeds and plants. App users can also complete order fulfillment via seed count or package size, find product substitutions, get personalized “contact us” information, request plant tags, and more. “Upgrading WebTrack To Go to the full suite of ordering and management tools is where we’ve always wanted to be,” says Mark Morris, Director of IT for Ball Seed. “With this new roll-out, we’re keeping up with our customers on-the-go and providing them the information and access they need –- even while away from their desks.” The Ball Seed WebTrack To Go app lets customers: Check order status and shipment tracking 24-7 Access up-to-the-minute product inventory from hundreds of suppliers Place orders by seed count, packet size, and more Find product info, culture and photos when and where they […]

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More
Petunia 'Supertunia Violet Star Charm' (2015 University of Georgia Field Trials)

May 10, 2016

New Southern-Centric Ornamental Production Conference T…

The 2016 Academy of Crop Production is dedicated exclusively to sharing information on advanced ornamental crop production and business management techniques for ornamental producers.

Read More
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses …

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

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

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable …

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Young Plants Farm North Carolina

March 15, 2016

Young’s Plant Farm Obtains MPS-A Qualification

MPS, an organization that develops and manages certification for companies in the horticulture industry, has awarded MPS-A certification to Young’s Plant Farm in North Carolina and Alabama.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

March 14, 2016

Dr. Charlie Hall Will Offer Keynote Address At Farwest …

The Texas A&M economist will discuss factors affecting short- and long-term demand driving the future of the green industry.

Read More
Seed Your Future Logo

March 8, 2016

Longwood Gardens And American Society For Horticultural…

Under the direction of co-chairs Paul B. Redman of Longwood Gardens and Anna Ball of Ball Horticultural Company, the “Seed Your Future” initiative is designed to combat declining awareness of horticulture while promoting it as a viable career choice.

Read More
Florida Green Industry

March 4, 2016

University Of Florida Study Shows Green Industry Genera…

According to the study, the rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.

Read More
Great Lakes Growers Expansion

February 22, 2016

Great Lakes Growers Expands Its Production Capacity For…

The Burton, OH-based grower has added 25,000 square feet to its operation, helping it to keep up with rising consumer demand.

Read More
National Garden Bureau Logo feature image

February 16, 2016

New Officers And Directors At National Garden Bureau an…

During the ASTA Flower & Vegetable Seed Conference, National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections elected new officers and directors.

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