The Top 100 Growers Find Diversity Provides More Security

Top100American floriculture differs from the rest of the world in some pretty major ways. Whereas European growers tend to concentrate on three or four crops, U.S. grower operations have remained quite diversified.

It’s not a new concept, to be sure, but in Greenhouse Grower’s annual Top 100 Growers survey, we wanted to know, how have growers continued to change their crop mix and how have these changes affected their business over time?

With the role growers play expanding beyond crop producers, we were also curious how much more merchandising and marketing they are doing, and how they see those jobs playing out as both growers and retailers become more competitive for sales.

 

 

Growing A Broader Crop Mix

The majority of growers (82 percent) said over the past 10 years, they have changed their crop mix at their customers’ request, and 78 percent said doing so helped their operations secure new customers.

Diversification of plant genera expanded significantly, and most growers said the number of varieties they offer doubled and even tripled compared to what they grew 10 years ago.
The growers reported other factors that led to changing crop mixes that included advancements like the availability of better genetics, improved disease resistance, better profit margins for premium items and better marketing efforts. More consumer interest in segments like container gardening, patio-ready items and perennials created pull-through demand. They also attributed crop changes to certain bedding plants becoming low-profit commodity items and disease issues like impatiens downy mildew.

Growers are continuing to change up their crop mix, too, with 77 percent saying they plan to grow more edibles, including vegetables (43 percent), herbs (29 percent) and fruit (5 percent) in future seasons. Thirty-eight percent are expanding into perennials, 31 percent are growing more bedding plants and 26 percent will increase blooming potted plants. In young plants, 36 percent will grow more plugs and propagation material and 5 percent are looking into organic starts.

Market Share And Merchandising

For the customers they serve, 27 percent of the Top 100 Growers consider their operations to be a one-stop shop, while 46 percent say they are one of a few grower vendors and 27 percent say they are one of many suppliers. Still, 44 percent supply between 75 to 100 percent of the plant products their customers buy.

Perhaps some of that share is credited to how involved growers are in providing merchandising services to retailers. Eighty-three percent of our respondents said they feel control over merchandising is a good thing and, given the choice, 72 percent want to market their own crops while 28 percent would rather someone else do it for them.

“Merchandising started as a part-time operation, cleaning up displays and watering,” said one grower. “Now we have four times as many merchandisers in the field as we have production employees in the greenhouse. Merchandisers are responsible for setting displays, but the stores are responsible for watering.”

The Top 100 Growers overwhelmingly want to be involved in retail merchandising, with 24 percent saying they want 100 percent control, 55 percent saying they want to be involved in making decisions on merchandising and plant care and 5 percent saying they want their teams in control of watering and plant care, but not merchandising. Another 16 percent say they want no part of any merchandising responsibilities.

“Merchandising is essential to a good sell through at box stores. Being successful at merchandising opens up more opportunities with customers who need help,” a grower said.

Other growers agreed, saying the only way to survive in the chains is to provide merchandising for increasingly hands-off stores.

“More control almost always means more profitability for the grower,” a grower said. “When you include inventory control (Home Depot) with quality control at the store level, you can run your own garden center.”

Some growers are even training retailers to focus their marketing and merchandising efforts at retail.
“We are working with merchandisers we already pay to communicate more. A trial in a warehouse chain will show our buyers new ways to merchandise,” a grower said.

Retailers will continue to expect more grower merchandising at their stores, most growers agreed, and some said it will be necessary for growers to stay involved and incorporate improved signage, displays, presentation, cleanliness and technology as consumer demand increases. But as growers assume more responsibility, they feel they should receive higher margins for their crops (see “Top 10 Retail Gripes”).

“This is the key to better execution at the store level,” one grower said. “Less shrink, better sell-through, nicer presentation and hopefully better sales!”

Marketing And Social Media

The Top 100 Growers are joining the ranks of social media marketers (63 percent), and if they’re not using it, they plan on getting started (14 percent).

Of the social media channels growers are using, everyone is on Facebook. Twitter comes in second with 47 percent, YouTube is popular with 43 percent and 37 percent are using Pinterest.
Growers’ continued merchandising and marketing efforts are keeping their products front-of-mind for the consumer, and that’s the goal, said one grower, who tweaks promotions to respond to consumer nuances.

“Our current marketing efforts are based in multi-channel segments of garden center, landscape and re-wholesale. We focus our marketing efforts based on the sales history and demographics and needs of each of those three channels,” the grower said. “There are no immediate plans for rolling out any new programs, but we are always looking for opportunities to meet the needs of our customers.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Reports...
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Figure 1. Mustard microgreens grown under sole-source (SS) lighting using light-emitting diode (LED) arrays.

August 21, 2015

Sole-Source LED Lighting In Horticulture: Microgreens Production

In Part 2 of a four-part lighting series highlighting the multiple uses of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), researchers examine the effects of sole-source LED lighting on microgreen production to achieve the highest quality crop possible in an energy efficient manner.

Read More
Latest Stories
Top 100

May 8, 2015

The Top 100 Growers Tackle Crop Protection Challenges

We asked the Top 100 Growers how they have changed their production practices to address consumer concerns about pollinator health, as well as how integrated pest management and the use of biocontrols have changed their operations.

Read More
40

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Young’s Plant Farm (No. 40)

Learn more about Young's Plant Farm, No. 40 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
39

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Dewar Nurseries (No. 39)

Learn more about Dewar Nurseries, No. 39 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
36

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Garden State Growers (No. 36)

Learn more about Garden State Growers, No. 36 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
35

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Plant Marketing (No. 35)

Learn more about Plant Marketing, No. 35 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
48

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van Wingerden International Inc. …

Learn more about Van Wingerden International Inc., No. 48 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
50

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bailey Nurseries (No. 50)

Learn more about Bailey Nurseries International Inc., No. 50 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
26a

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bela Flor Nurseries (No. 26)

Learn more about Bela Flor Nurseries , No. 26 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers List

Read More
34

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Battlefield Farms, Inc. (No. 34)

Learn more about Battlefield Farms, Inc., No. 34 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
44

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Post Gardens, Inc. (No. 44)

Learn more about Post Gardens, Inc., No. 44 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
43

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Grower Direct Farms (No. 43)

Learn more about Grower Direct Farms, No. 43 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 75

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Harts Nursery (No. 75)

Learn more about Harts Nursery, No. 75 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van de Wetering Greenhouses (No. …

Learn more about Van de Wetering Greenhouses, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plant…

Learn more about Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plants-Hardystarts, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 65

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Corso’s Perennials (No. 65)

Learn more about Corso's Perennials, No. 65 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 64

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bob’s Market And Greenhouse…

Learn more about Bob's Market And Greenhouses, No. 64 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 61

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Armstrong Growers (No. 61)

Learn more about Armstrong Growers, No. 61 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 60

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Lucas Greenhouses (No. 60)

Learn more about Lucas Greenhouses, No. 60 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More