April 28, 2011

USDA Proposes National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is requesting comment on the creation of a voluntary National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) that would assist all segments of the leafy green industry in meeting commercial food quality and safety requirements. To reflect the different climates, production practices and markets handling leafy green produce, USDA is proposing that there be eight regional zones represented on the board. Representatives from these zones, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, would form a board to manage the agreement. The board would include 26 representatives – 12 handlers, 10 farmers (at least two of which must be small farmers), one importer, one retailer, one food service representative and one member of the public. “This proposed agreement and governance structure provides an opportunity for farmers, handlers and retailers of all sizes to work together and develop a practical program,” says Agriculture Deputy Secretary […]

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April 27, 2011

WSJ: Home Depot, Lowe’s In Fight For Flower Power

The Wall Street Journal published an article April 27 titled “The Garden Gloves Come Off,” describing an “annual war” between Home Depot and Lowe’s over the discovery and development of new plants for their stores. “We want to be better than the other guy,” Mike DuVall, Home Depot’s chief plant merchant for the southern U.S, tells The Wall Street Journal. “It could be a flower with a stalk that sits up a little higher or has eight blooms instead of four. But we want to sell something that the other guy doesn’t.” Reporter Miguel Bustillo dives into plant exclusives each home improvement chain has had over the years and the greatest finds of both Home Depot and Lowe’s.  Read the full article here.

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April 25, 2011

Proven Winners’ Superbells Varieties Getting National Attention

The latest additions to the Superbells Punch calibrachoa series from Proven Winners are gaining national attention in popular magazines, as consumer editors advise gardeners on the hottest varieties to look for this spring. ‘Superbells Coralberry Punch’ and ‘Superbells Blackberry Punch’ are appearing on the pages of many just-issued gardening and lifestyle magazines. Better Homes and Gardens (April, 2011), Gardening How-To (January/February, 2011), Small Gardens (Spring, 2011) and Birds and Blooms (February/March, 2011) are among the publications that have featured this series of plants that offer a dark, black eye surrounded by a bright bloom of color. “The Superbells Punch series is our attempt to capitalize on two different gardener interests,” says Rick Schoellhorn, director of new products for Proven Winners. “We are working to get the blackest-eyed forms we can so that we capture the consumer’s eye with bi-color blooms, contrasting with bright colors on the outside of each flower. […]

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April 25, 2011

Overcoming Big Box Obstacles

In 1870, Bennett’s Greenhouse was a rural operation connected to the community by a single-lane road. Today, it is a $4 million, 25-acre, year-round grower-retailer, located in the midst of mini malls, industrial parks and some pretty stiff big box store competition. In today’s market, where medium-sized businesses often find themselves squeezed out, Bennett’s and its owners Richard Bennett, Barbara Bennett Ruff and Kathy Bennett Chinn, are finding success by focusing on the things it can do better than its bigger competitors. Answering Big Box Competition The Bennetts believe they have something to offer that the big box competition cannot. “It is up to the mid-sized greenhouse to produce our own best choices,” Barb says. “How is a big box going to keep selling 20 kinds of verbena?” Customer sales have evolved from a flats industry to many more varieties, but in far less numbers. Today, the Bennetts think they […]

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April 25, 2011

Consumer Interest In ‘Green’ Plants

The ornamental plant industry consists of a few large- and many medium- and small-scale growers. In recent years, the intense competition from large domestic and international growers has forced medium- and small-scale farmers to identify and explore new niche markets for their products through value-added marketing. Discovering a profitable niche market is a complicated task because consumer demand is highly diversified. Organically grown and locally grown food products have become increasingly popular in recent years. There is a belief that the demand for organic and sustainable floral products is increasing in the United States due to an emerging consumer segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living and social justice. Our research focused on two questions: 1) Are some consumers more interested in ornamentals, vegetable transplants and herbs produced in sustainable ways than conventionally grown plants? and 2) Do some consumers have different levels of interest […]

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March 30, 2011

Endless Marketing Ideas

There’s no limit to the number of fun and exciting ideas The John Henry Company is developing. From seasonal pot wraps and QR codes to new merchandising concepts for gifting and its BloomIQ.com website, the people at John Henry are certainly keeping busy but more importantly helping growers and retailers sell more plants. Some growers will always argue good-quality plants sell themselves. Of course, that’s true in some cases, but it’s clearly becoming more important to connect more directly to that key demographic of female consumers–and fun, attractive packaging is the way to do just that. Among some of John Henry’s packaging ideas unveiled at the California Spring Trials are pumpkin and scarecrow pot wraps for the fall season and a special Easter program that involves QR codes connecting smartphone users to short, stop-motion videos of an Easter chick hatching. John Henry also showcased a few brand-specific packaging items, including Plant In […]

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March 29, 2011

QR Codes Becoming More Prevalent

The greenhouse industry got wind of QR codes and Microsoft Tags at last year’s California Spring Trials. QR codes are back in full force this year at Sakata, where MasterTag is showcasing a variety of point-of-purchase materials with QR codes front and center on them. MasterTag is actually teaming with Learn2Grow.com to help educate consumers through QR codes. A smartphone user who downloads the appropriate app can learn everything from growing conditions to soil and water needs about their featured plants through Learn2Grow.com. “We don’t know where this whole thing is going to go,” says Joe Fox, sales and marketing director of MasterTag. “I think a lot of people are going to know what these are by the end of the year.” MasterTag is focusing on QR codes rather than Microsoft Tags because Microsoft is indicating online that it might eventually charge users for its tags. Fox says he’s seen […]

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March 23, 2011

The Curious Case Of The Wholesale Clubs

Walmart’s planogram, like those of the home improvement and supermarket chains, regularly incorporates live goods. The space those chains dedicate to live goods is roughly the same between stores, and the volume growers supply to each respective chain is enough to keep their greenhouses full and their operations in business.   Wholesale clubs are a different beast, though. Yes, BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club make up a massive retail channel, but live goods fit into their planograms differently. None of the three has a full-fledged garden center or floral department nationally. Instead, live goods are typically merchandised on wooden pallets and positioned wherever each club can make room for them in stores.   Sure, the live goods approach at the clubs is somewhat perplexing, and the supply challenges their growers face are daunting. But the rewards those growers reap, in many cases, trump the hoops they jump through in supplying […]

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March 23, 2011

5 Questions With A Costco Floral Buyer

Costco floral buyer Ken Hackman shares insights into his wholesale club’s approach to live goods and why he thinks Costco has been so successful selling them.   GG: The wholesale club retail channel is a unique one compared to, say, mass merchandisers (Walmart), home improvement chains (Lowe’s, Home Depot), supermarket chains and independently owned garden centers. There are several differentiating factors I can identify, including numbers of SKUs, volume and the high number of product turns.  In what other ways does Costco strive to be different in regard to live goods? Can you also tell us about the philsophy behind the number of SKUs, volume and the high number of product turns, and why Costco has adopted its specific approach to lawn and garden?   KH: Costco’s business model is based on larger rings, faster turns and low markups on the highest quality merchandise in order to keep our price […]

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March 18, 2011

Pepsi Testing Plant-Based Bottle

PepsiCo has developed a PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based resources, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The “green” bottle is 100 percent recyclable. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the “green” bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its foods business. “PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally-preferable bottle for our beverages business–a sustainable business model that we believe brings to life the essence of Performance with Purpose,” says PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its […]

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March 18, 2011

America In Bloom Launches Communities In 2011 Program

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of America in Bloom, citizens in more than 20 towns across America are working on local revitalization programs as they prepare for visits from America in Bloom (AIB) judges. These towns are planting, cleaning and doing everything they can to be in the running to be named the best blooming, most livable town in America.   The America in Bloom competition is open to towns and cities of all sizes. The smallest town has been Shipshewana, Ind., with a population of 536, and the largest is Chicago. To date, nearly 200 towns and cities from 38 states have participated in the program and more than 21 million people have been touched by it. Towns are compared to others in the same population category.   Judging will begin in May and continue through early August. America in Bloom is the only program of its type in the […]

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March 18, 2011

The Public Marketing Of Horticulture

I am fortunate to be invited to speak in many horticultural venues. I thought for sure it was my good looks, but no such luck. People actually want to hear about what we do. I have been doing this for some time and am noticing a trend in the public marketing of horticulture that is a wee bit troubling. Perhaps it has snuck up on us, but without noticing we have become somewhat irrelevant. Most of the time, I speak to you–the industry. We have been educating each other, sharing thoughts, problems, answers and the joys and despairs of what we do. Whether educators, growers, retailers or brokers, we are all trying to enhance our businesses through efficiency and marketing–but we constantly talk to each other. Evolution Of Garden Shows Ten years ago, I was often invited to speak at “home and garden” shows in Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta and other […]

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