Quality First, Price Second

Quality First, Price Second

The only cut flowers and potted plants I saw Wednesday were the ones beautifying the hotel and restaurants I visited, but that’s because my day was spent visiting two companies highly focused on vegetables: (1) Tomato World, a joint effort of nearly 40 companies that’s created a platform for cooperation, education and knowledge exchange in the greenhouse; and (2) The Greenery, a cooperative that represents 1,250 growers from numerous countries and primarily supplies the United Kingdom with fresh fruits and vegetables.

I didn’t take away any floriculture-specific ideas, but a couple of general concepts and ideas I picked up are worth knowing.

One thing that impressed me about both Tomato World and The Greenery is the willingness of the people involved to collaborate. Dutch tomato growers are facing some of the same problems growers are facing in the United States: Cheap, poor-quality product is hitting the market, and consumers are buying based on what’s cheap rather than what’s quality. Dutch growers could lower their prices to remain competitive, but quality is such a high standard here that most growers won’t lower costs for the sake of short-term competition. Growers are holding their ground with the belief that quality will be the high standard following the recession rather than cost, and I give them credit sticking their ground.

A spokesperson for The Greenery, for example, mentioned how a few growers in The Netherlands and other countries are willing to lower prices to involve themselves with the cooperative. The Greenery provides vegetables to supermarket chains throughout Europe, North America and the Far East, and growers not involved with the cooperative want in on the action. The spokesperson, however, said The Greenery puts its Dutch growers first, and it puts Dutch growers who produce quality product at the front of the line. The Greenery realizes redistributing cheap product is one route it could go, but loyalty, tradition and quality are three standards by which the cooperative stands.

Where do you stand in the quality versus price debate?

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4 comments on “Quality First, Price Second

  1. It’s not a matter of price vs. quality when dealing with consumers. It’s a matter of “perceived value”. Sometimes it requires seeing two offerings side by side to highlight the values – perhaps lower priced field grown tomatoes displayed next to higher priced hothouse grown tomatoes will help sell the hothouse tomato by way of highlighting the value of color, uniformity and presentation.
    The price one is willing to pay is directly related to what that individual believes they are receiving – a cup of coffee from a vending machine offers a different experience that a cup made by a barista in a coffee house even if the taste is identical.
    Developing a strategy for a specific market may be a challenge. However, if you focus on high quality production you may find fewer competitors able to follow. Conversely a strategy of lowering a price is easy to implement by any grower although this path is not always sustainable in the long run.

  2. It’s not a matter of price vs. quality when dealing with consumers. It’s a matter of “perceived value”. Sometimes it requires seeing two offerings side by side to highlight the values – perhaps lower priced field grown tomatoes displayed next to higher priced hothouse grown tomatoes will help sell the hothouse tomato by way of highlighting the value of color, uniformity and presentation.
    The price one is willing to pay is directly related to what that individual believes they are receiving – a cup of coffee from a vending machine offers a different experience that a cup made by a barista in a coffee house even if the taste is identical.
    Developing a strategy for a specific market may be a challenge. However, if you focus on high quality production you may find fewer competitors able to follow. Conversely a strategy of lowering a price is easy to implement by any grower although this path is not always sustainable in the long run.

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