Feeding The Global Market

Feeding The Global Market

As senior vice president of Scotts Professional Global with a home base in The Netherlands, Fred Bosch keeps an eye on the North American market, as well as those in Europe and Africa. Bosch has seen the global view from that role for slightly less than a year and shares his views of the global market. 

Feeding A Different Consumer Market

At the consumer level, the big difference between the United States and Europe in selling plants and flowers is that Europe is more complex from a business perspective, Bosch says. With all the different countries and cultural backgrounds of European consumers, marketing efforts need to target different audiences in different ways, a need that isn’t as great in the United States. The types of gardeners found in the States are different that those found in Europe.

“In southern Europe, most people live in apartments, so they don’t even have yards,” Bosch says. “Only those who can afford a second home–they would have a big yard.” Weather extremes in southern Europe don’t encourage people to garden, either.

On the production side, Northern Europe is dominated by nurseries, while greenhouses are more common in the South. The average American greenhouse is larger than the average European operation, as European markets are generally more localized, with more smaller growers with smaller distribution areas. Growers produce fewer types of plants and specialize more.

“Growers here [in the United States] need to be a lot closer to the market,” Bosch says. “A lot more knowledgeable on prices, where in Europe, you have special bodies that fulfill that role. They are the market link for the growers. The grower specializes in production techniques and the market challenge is done by another organization. Everyone in the supply chain is more specialized.”

In Europe, the influence of the big box stores is not as strong yet and the niche model works well.

“Taking on one variety isn’t a risk because of the advantage of growing at that scale and there being only a few competitors in the delivery area,” Bosch says.

Learning From Each Other

Although the markets are quite different, growers here and overseas can learn from each other.

“I think Europeans can learn a lot from what our American colleagues experience in terms of pressure from the big boxes,” Bosch says. “At the end of the day, they’re increases in scale we’ll see in Europe someday.” It’s happening in some countries in Europe already, but not as widespread as in the United States.

Scotts has gleaned from the market in Europe that spending on research and development on innovation, sales and marketing is paying off for Scotts and the growers it serves. The larger scale of American operations only increases the importance of maintaining cash flow and controlling input costs.

“Larger growing operations feel the impact of increased prices on inputs to a higher degree,” Bosch says. “As a supplier, our challenge is to develop products that offer all nurseries and greenhouses great value and top-notch performance.” Although R&D is an extra cost upfront with little or no payoff for years, Bosch says it’s vital to avoiding commoditization of the market and will strengthen operations. Scotts is now investing in R&D itself and strengthening its North American sales force to explain the benefits of Scotts’ products to growers, another strategy that has proved important in the European market. 

Sustaining Business

One issue the United States and Europe are dealing with head on is sustainability. Just like there are more stringent environmental regulations in some parts of the United States, some parts of Europe have higher regulatory pressures, including densely populated Holland.

Bosch says the most important strategic element for Scotts right now is sustainability. The company has embarked on a journey of improving processes and reducing impact through new technologies. The holistic nature of the sustainable model, including energy efficiency, water runoff, labor and recycling in addition to organic production, addresses the full spectrum of issues Scotts is working to improve.

“We believe sustainability will be a strategic advantage in the future,” Bosch says. The beginning of the process includes Scotts’ slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote. “You pay more for environmental stewardship, but, of course, it’s got to perform. It’s got to be economically sensible for a producer to buy. If we can combine those two objectives, I think that would be a strategic win–for the producer and the consumer, as well.”

Part of Scotts’ investment in research and development includes looking for more sustainable fertilizer and plant protection products, and also products that can help growers reduce labor. A new product, CitriBlen, has helped Florida citrus growers reduce labor input and is more efficient in terms of water management. CitriBlen offers 80 percent less leaching of nitrates into the soil. 

The United States and Europe each have their own unique labor challenges. While the immigration challenges in the United States plague businesses, labor costs in Europe can reach $40 to $50 per hour.

“That’s why you see the enormous speed of investment, especially in the Netherlands,” Bosch says. “It’s just incredible. There are even producers who produce their own energy. They sell energy back to the grid. It’s fantastic, what you see happening.”

The automation that’s taken over production is credited with saving greenhouses in northern Europe.

“Five to 10 years ago, they thought greenhouses would disappear from Holland because southern Europe would have inherent competitive advantage. What you see today is a new paradigm that says, ‘No, it’s not the environment that’s going to determine the strategic position of a country. It’s the capital, the technology.'”

As a result, the consumer in Europe pays a lot more for a shrub than a consumer in the United States. But they still buy. One explanation may be that European home gardens are smaller than those in the United States so each home buys fewer plants.

Limited Resources

The eco-friendly movement is about conserving resources, which is a concern for fertilizers, Bosch says.

“Consumers tend to forget that, yes, fertilizer is mostly nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. You can’t make nitrogen, and it’s abundantly available in the air. But potassium and phosphate are limited elements in nature. Everybody is talking about limited resources. The same applies to key elements of fertilizers.”

In Holland, growers have been quick to take up new types of products that meet new requirements, even those that aren’t affected by new regulation.

“Apparently, there are a lot of new adopters who want to see what the effect of these new products is on their production practices and economics,” Bosch says. He also cites the North American Horticultural Supply Association annual meeting, which focuses on sustainability this year, as a sign that growers should become more familiar with sustainable growing practices.

“Growers need to change their paradigm, their approach to production,” he says. “It takes one, two or maybe three years to learn the new practice. What they’ve done with agricultural-type products, it’s a completely new era.”

Leave a Reply

More From Fertilization...
Colorado State University 2015 Container Field Trials

November 29, 2015

2015 Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colo.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Read More
Coleus 'Colorblaze Velveteen' (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

November 28, 2015

2015 University of Tennessee Gardens (Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.

Read More
Feature Image Cob 700 (NewLux)

November 28, 2015

16 LED Lighting Solutions For Your Greenhouse

Narrowing in on the right LED lighting product often comes down to considering your specific crop needs and growing requirements to see what works best for your application. Here are 15 LED products to take into account when choosing the right fit for your greenhouse.

Read More
Latest Stories
Fertilizer Rates Feature Image

August 12, 2015

Selecting Fertilizer Rates For Several Spring Bedding P…

Fertilizing bedding plants can be difficult due to the differing needs of the large variety of plants that we grow. Many operations do not grow enough of any one crop to cater the fertilizer specifically for each crop. Therefore, grouping crops with similar fertilizer requirements and having two to three fertilizer strengths available is a practical way to ensure plants are getting the fertilizer they need. With many new plant varieties on the market, we wanted to conduct a trial at Cornell University to determine best fertilizer rates for several common bedding plant crops. 22 Bedding Plants Studied To Establish Fertilizer Rates Plugs and rooted liners of 22 crops (Table 1) were transplanted into 4-inch (500 mL volume) round pots with a commercial peat/perlite based substrate. The plants were grown in a glass greenhouse at Cornell University during the spring season at a spacing of one plant per square foot. Heating set […]

Read More

June 13, 2015

UMASS Fertilizer Trials Recommend Nature’s Source Organ…

In a recent online fact-sheet at its Extension website, the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment lists Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as “the best liquid organic fertilizer,” according to Dr. Douglas Cox, Stockbridge School of Agriculture. It is called-out by the Extension after a number of years of studying the use of organic fertilizers for growing commercial greenhouse crops. The trials evaluated traditional water soluble and granular slow-release chemical fertilizers. Dr. Cox recommends Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as a liquid fertilizer that is readily available, cost effective, OMRI-listed and with good label directions for greenhouses. He also mentions the ease-of-use in how it mixes well with water and can pass fertilizer injectors. “Nature’s Source is currently the best liquid organic fertilizer,” Cox wrote in his article “Organic Fertilizers – Thoughts on Using Liquid Organic Fertilizers for Greenhouse Plants,” “I have seen no foliar chlorosis yet with this fertilizer. Nature’s source is widely available and a great […]

Read More

January 9, 2015

6 New Fertilizer Products For Healthy Plants

These five products add even more options for delivering nutrients to the root zone.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Fertilizers And The Future

As growers look for new ways to cut costs and conserve resources, fertilizer and equipment companies are offering products that strive to save water, reduce toxic runoff and keep chemicals out of the equation.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Gain Greater Control Of Fertilizer With Automated Ferti…

University researchers look at integrating irrigation and fertilization with the help of water sensors to reduce fertilizer treatments and improve application timing.

Read More

October 30, 2014

Basics & Beyond: Comparing Substrate Fertilizer Ame…

Cornell University researcher determines if substrate-incorporated slow-release fertilizers can be used to replace or reduce the need for liquid fertilizer for four spring crops.

Read More

July 24, 2014

Using Controlled Release Fertilizers To Produce Garden …

Researchers determined whether or not garden mums can be grown with controlled-release fertilizer, and if it reduces fertilizer leaching, as compared with water-soluble fertilizers.

Read More

March 14, 2014

New Foliage Pro Fertilizer Offers Complete Nutrition Pl…

Dyna-Gro Nutrition Solutions has developed a process it says is capable of keeping all 16 essential plant nutrients in solution form.

Read More

January 30, 2014

OASIS Grower Solutions Introduces New One-Bag Hydroponi…

The new 16-4-17 Hydroponic Fertilizer from OASIS Grower Solutions (OGS) is a one-bag solution that replaces two-part systems traditionally used by commercial hydroponic growers. It is specifically formulated for commercial hydroponic production of lettuce, herbs and vegetables.

Read More

December 30, 2013

Fertilizer Changes Growing Mix pH

When considering a fertilizer's influence on media pH, you need to know its acid or basic reaction.

Read More

December 30, 2013

Basics & Beyond: Fundamentals Of Phosphorus Nutriti…

Phosphorus is an essential element, after all.

Read More
Everris Liquid S.T.E.M.

December 30, 2013

New Fertilizers For 2014

New fertilizer products not only deliver optimum nutrition, they also provide for easier application and increased efficiency. Check out these new products to help your operation produce a healthy crop in 2014. Click through on the pages below.

Read More

December 18, 2013

Focus On Fertilizer: Micronutrients And Organics

New fertilizer products are focusing on micronutrients and providing efficient options for organic production.

Read More

August 27, 2013

BioWorks Adds EcoVita To The Verdanta Family Of Biofert…

EcoVita, a homogeneous granular organic fertilizer, has been added to Bioworks Inc.’s Verdanta biofertilizers product family. This fertilizer will be manufactured and supplied to BioWorks by DCM Corporation of Belgium, a producer of natural and organic-based fertilizers in Western Europe. EcoVita is suitable for a wide variety of crops with its gentle release curve including:• Organic fertilization as a base nutrition in potting mixes• Leafy vegetables• Fruiting vegetables (s a top dressing) • Roses and other ornamentals The new fertilizer offers long-lasting and continuous action for 75 to 100 days and contains organic phosphorus (5 percent P2O5) for fast rooting. Nutrients in EcoVita are gradually released by the soil microbes, in addition to producing humus for better rooting and less leaching. EcoVita is OMRI Listed, making it suitable for use in organic production. “We’re pleased to introduce EcoVita 7-5-10 as our organic NPK product to complement our organic products: K-Vita 2-0-20 […]

Read More

April 29, 2013

Rockwell Farms Introduces Ready-To-Pour Container Ferti…

Rockwell Farms has introduced Rockwell Farms Plant Food, a bottled liquid fertilizer that does not need to be diluted before use. Always looking for ways to help the consumer succeeed, Jason Roseman of Rockwell Farms says the operation is also always looking for ways to get consumers to come back and buy more plants and flowers. “We feel like fertilization is one of those things that can be very confusing,” Roseman says. “Not everyone does it, and not everyone knows what they’re supposed to do.” The solution: Rockwell Farms Plant Food. The formulation is 150 ppm of a 20-10-20 fertilizer and is sold in 24-ounce bottles. Rockwell recommends that one bottle be used to fertilize 1.5- to 3-gallon outdoor plant and flower containers every 21 days. The product’s signage shows a young patio gardener pouring the bottled fertilizer on a windowbox with the tagline, “Just pour on your way out […]

Read More

April 29, 2013

Plant Products To Be Purchased By MGS Horticultural And…

MGS Horticultural Inc., a full-service supplier of fertilizers, pest control products, seeds and substrates in North America, together with Haifa Chemicals, a global supplier of potassium nitrate for agriculture and industry, specialty plant nutrients and food phosphates, today announced a plan to purchase Canadian fertilizer and pesticides supplier Plant Products Co. Ltd. The deal is anticipated to close by the end of June 2013. MGS will acquire Plant Products’ Canadian distribution business, sales force and name. MGS plans to use both names (MGS Horticultural and Plant Products) in all communications going forward. MGS will maintain locations in Leamington, ON; Brampton, ON; Laval, QC; St. Hyacinthe, QC; and Detroit, Mich. As part of the deal, MGS has signed multi-year agreements with Haifa to maintain exclusive distribution of Plant-Prod Soluble Fertilizers, Acer Controlled Release Fertilizer, Stim-Root and potting soil premix fertilizers for distribution in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Eastern Canada. “MGS is excited […]

Read More

March 19, 2013

Irrigation And Fertilizer Tips For New Vegetable Grower…

Compared to other variable costs, fertilizers are not the largest part of the budget in conventional greenhouse production. Nevertheless, over the course of the season, mistakes in fertilizer use can lead to significant damages or crop losses. That makes this an important topic for ornamental growers who are experimenting with growing vegetable crops. This article will emphasize major differences between fertilizers used in vegetable production and in ornamentals production. The different nutrition strategies, monitoring and water volume per plant will also be explained. Fertilizer In ornamental production, nutrients are delivered using various water-soluble fertilizers through a fertilizer injector, through the use of controlled-release fertilizers, or a combination of the two. There are numerous fertilizer mixes available with all the needed nutrients already included. The fertilization rate is often given in parts per million (ppm) of nitrogen (N), which is a way of expressing the fertilizer concentration. At younger stages, plants will […]

Read More

March 11, 2013

Daniels Plant Food Rebranded As Nature’s Source

Ball DPF has announced the launch of Nature’s Source, a rebranding in name and packaging for its seed extract-based plant fertilizer product Daniels Plant Food. The new brand will make its industry debut at California Spring Trials. “While we are proud of our heritage, we made this bold decision because we’re expanding sales to our existing market segments and entering new ones. It was a good opportunity to start with a fresh name and a modern look for all our products and packaging,” says Chance Finch, general manager for Ball DPF. “We wanted to make it obvious, beginning with our Nature’s Source brand name, to know our products are sourced from nature. Growers, contractors and gardeners can be confident that our effective and unique formulations remain unchanged. We’re excited about launching updated packaging for all our products, and especially the new ready-to-spray plant food for home gardeners.” The Nature’s Source brand […]

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