Checking In With Rocket Farms
Based in Salinas, Calif., Rocket Farms is the largest poinsettia grower on the West Coast, devoting 4.4 million square feet of greenhouse space to producing the signature Christmas crop. Sales Manager Doug Brothers shares the trends from this season.
Outside of floriculture, Rocket Farms is known for vegetable transplants. Poinsettias were its first big floriculture crop and the company has since expanded into phalaenopsis orchids. Rocket Farms is unique from most large operations growing poinsettias in that it still grows and maintains mother stock plants to take cuttings from instead of receiving cuttings from offshore.
As the season was getting under way Dec. 8, Brothers shared details on this year’s crop and retail demand.
GG: How many poinsettias will Rocket Farms produce this year? 1,400,000
– In what sizes? 2.5″–4.5″–5″–6.5″–8″–10″
– Colors? 72 percent red, 28 percent colors.
– Varieties? Too many to list.. Including red, we grow 45 different varieties from four different suppliers.
GG: Which retailers are receiving them?
Brothers: Costco, Trader Joe’s, Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill Foods, Safeway, Whole Foods, Albertsons, CVS, Vons, SaveMart, FoodMaxGelson’s, SuperValue, Orchard Supply Hardware, Home Depot, Fresh and Easy, Rogers Gardens and Stater Brothers.
GG: Are you doing any special programs, promotions or packaging for the poinsettias?
Brothers: No promotions for this season, but we were talking about a promotion for 2010 with a pink poinsettia.
GG: How is the season so far?
Brothers: We see good sales in the retail arena this season compared to last year. Stores are selling out and ordering more than what they pre-booked. We are running tight on production thus far and we see a season for selling through our numbers.
GG: How does this year compare to last year in terms of:
– Numbers you are producing? About the same as last year in numbers.
– Product you are producing? We are growing less colors than last year, approximately 10 percent.
– Retailers you are serving? About the same.
GG: Has Rocket Farms gained as other growers pulled out of poinsettias?
Brothers: I think we are about the same as last year due to our customer base, pricing and that we grow top-quality plants.
GG: How big of a region are you serving/shipping to?
Brothers: We service all over California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Arizona – 85 percent of our business is in California.
GG: Are you growing poinsettias for other growers to sell?
Brothers: Yes, we provide poinsettias for other growers and the main reason is demographics. Other growers may be based in Southern California and have customers in Northern California and this helps the growers with logistics.
GG: How are the orchids faring competitively with the poinsettias, or are they complementary items?
Brothers: Orchids are doing great and our numbers are up compared to last year’s. They each have a special look for the holiday season.
GG: Do orchids & poinsettias ship to the same retailers together?
Brothers: We are shipping orchids and poinsettias to a few retail chains on the same day or week. This season we have increased our orchid sales 50 percent compared to last year.
For more information, visit www.rocketfarms.com.