Study Shows Regional Trends In Horticulture

Three professors at Texas A&M University recently published an updated study of U.S. nursery industry sales and marketing practices, which shows an industry heavy on small businesses.

More than 3,000 firms answered questions from professors Charlie Hall, Alan Hodges and Marco Palma about their green industry businesses. The results show more than 50 percent of those who responded were firms with less than $250,000 in annual sales. Only 17 percent had sales of $1 million or greater, including 2.2 percent of firms with sales totaling between $10 million and $49 million.

All told, respondents reported a collective total of $4.45 billion in sales for 2008, or an average of $1.73 million per firm. They collectively employed more than 48,800 permanent and temporary workers.

Based on an adjusted population of validated active firms, total U.S. nursery industry sales (representing all facets of nursery from supplier to retail) was estimated at $27 billion.

Other interesting statistics from the study:

• The average number of employees per nursery firm was 11.5 permanent and nine temporary.

• The Pacific ($1.11 billion) and Southeast ($1.06 billion) regions reported the highest annual sales of nursery products, led by California ($841 million) and Florida ($698 million).

• The leading plant type produced by U.S. nurseries was deciduous and flowering trees, representing 11.8 percent of total industry sales. Flowering annual bedding plants came in at 9.8 percent, flowering potted plants was at 7 percent and herbaceous perennials accounted for 5.3 percent of total industry sales.

• Native plants represented 13.4 percent of sales reported across all plant types.

• And while the majority of plants sold are sold through the mass merchants, the numbers change when you look at where the majority of wholesale growers sell their plants. The most popular outlet as a share of total wholesale sales was landscape firms, with 30.8 percent of sales nationally. Single location retail garden centers came in next at 21.9 percent, and re-wholesalers followed closely at 21.3 percent. Only 9.3 percent of wholesalers sold to mass merchants.

Click here to read the complete study, including regional breakdowns on topics like sales, employment and interregional trade. The study was published in the March 2011 issue of Journal of Environmental Horticulture, published by the Horticultural Research Institute.

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