Benary changed the game this year, in a few different ways.
First, the company announced its theme for the week: Silicon Valley Meets Big Begonia. The idea: to marry interest in technology with plants, to open consumers’ eyes to the real world of gardening.
Benary used virtual reality to give attendees a look at the inside of a greenhouse – and a view of horticulture from high above in a virtual helicopter ride. Then, the breeder took attendees into real greenhouses to view seed varieties and marketing programs, into an outdoor area set up with the new vegetative selections it will now be offering via Benary+, and then – surprise! – for a real helicopter ride over the vast horticultural area of the Monterey Bay.
But before all of that was experienced, the folks at Benary immediately tackled questions related to its recent distribution announcement that it will partner with Volmary to create Benary+, a joint venture that will distribute Benary seed genetics and Volmary’s vegetative varieties in North America.
The new venture will not circumvent the existing relationships Benary has with brokers to distribute genetics in North America. Rather, the new Benary+ venture will offer additional distribution options to growers, so they can choose the distribution method that suits them.
Managing Director Matthias Redlefsen says he has no intention of taking anything away from anyone. If anything, the new partnership with Volmary will bring more genetics to the marketplace, and create additional profits for everyone.
Greenhouse Grower has spoken with a number of broker representatives this week, who have discussed with us their reservations. Redlefsen says he understands the trepidation with which broker representatives have met this announcement; however, all of the distribution companies with whom Benary has met thus far have been completely professional.
In the end, he calls it what it is – a market disruption. But it’s not a sudden decision, or one that’s been taken lightly. Redlefsen says this will offer Benary a seat at the table among other breeders in a way that it never has before. It’s an effort to secure Benary’s legacy of seed genetics for nearly 175 years, while bringing that experience to the vegetative side of the marketplace. Benary+ will offer more than 400 vegetative varieties from the Volmary side, as well as Benary’s full seed line-up. Seeds will now be packaged in sleeves with VR codes printed on the outside, allowing for better storage for growers and breeders. The VR code will provide the ability to read germination count, so growers know exactly what they’re getting.
Benary+ will drop ship seed directly to growers in North America. Growers can also buy seed and plugs through brokers. On the vegetative side, Benary+ unrooted cuttings will be available directly from the Volmary farm in Kenya, or growers can buy rooted cuttings or liners from broker reps.
Benary’s Marketing Efforts
Getting back to technology and flowers and how they mix, Benary offered a showcase of pollinator drones. A university in Japan is working on technology that would supplement the activities of bees and other pollinators in the landscape. Trial attendees were able to fly a drone at the Graffiti pentas demonstration.
Benary also highlighted a new pansy program featuring a pansy solutions book. This offers ideas for combining pansies with other plants, and creative ideas for consumers to use pansies in the spring and fall. It’s not branded at all – the idea, says Marketing Director Jen Calhoun, is to improve sales for everyone across the pansy category. It’s Benary’s way of helping to rise the tide to lift all boats.
Social media is another important way that connects technology with gardening, Calhoun says. A number of social media programs, including #successpetunia, were highlighted.
Check back to GreenhouseGrower.com and the June issue to see more news and information on all breeder offerings this week.