Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

The timing couldn’t be better to present Japanese flower breeder Suntory with our Medal of Excellence for Industry Achievement. This year marks the 20-year anniversary of its very first flower introduction in the Suntory collection–Surfinia, a vigorous vegetative petunia that swept the world like a tsunami by creating a whole new class of petunias, commanding a premium unheard of in seed counterparts.

Up until then, Suntory, a $14 billion global company based in Osaka, Japan, was primarily focused on food, beverage and lifestyle industries. The Suntory family’s roots trace back to 1899. In addition to having its own products, Suntory represents leading brands in Japan, including Häagen Dazs ice cream, Subway and Pepsi. Today, Suntory’s flower varieties are licensed in 24 countries. Bear Creek Gardens/Jackson & Perkins has been the master licensee for North America.

“Suntory was the original pioneer in the vegetative annuals breeding revolution,” says Brian Gold of Pineae Greenhouses, one of the first American licensees.

“Without Suntory’s leadership, it would be doubtful this entire class of plants would exist as it does today. The breeders at Suntory have truly had great vision and forward thinking.”

Suntory also has been praised for taking the high road, elevating product categories and creating value. “Flowers are not a commodity,” says Shigeru

Sarada, who directs Suntory’s flower division. “We are selling enjoyment and happiness. It doesn’t make sense to discount happiness.” 

Revolutionary Breeding

After petunias, the next class of annuals to be revolutionized was verbena, with vegetatively produced Tapien and Temari series, making stunning groundcovers and baskets. Then came a whole new genus with Million Bells calibrachoa. This line was a huge success. Today, calibrachoa are generically referred to as Million Bells.

“What made their varieties successful was they were truly newer versions of existing things,” says John Rader of EuroAmerican Propagators. “They took a petunia and created an amazing petunia on steroids! They broke the mold. That kind of vision was critical. They recognized the potential of calibrachoa, so not only were they working in existing classes but finding new stuff, too.”

The Suntory lines helped Proven Winners get started in the 1990s. “Early on, they were part of the explosion of our business,” Rader says. “They helped us do really well. Million Bells, Tapien, Temari and Surfinia got us off the ground initially. They helped the whole thing gain momentum.”

Today, Rader is most excited about the Senetti cinerarias bred by Dr. Kiyoshi Miyazaki. They have been a big hit in the United Kingdom. “Growers, retailers and consumers here have yet to discover what they can do,” Rader says. “They are a far advanced cineraria, just like with Surfinia. In addition to being a pot plant, Senettis are more versatile as outdoor bedding. They will rebloom and are longer living.”

Going For Garden Performance

Suntory isn’t a company that rushes to introduce new varieties each year. It conducts extensive trials all over the world. Conditions in Japan include hot, wet summers and cold, dry winters. Suntory also has a breeding partnership with Oasis Horticulture in Australia called Bonza, which led to the drought-tolerant Surdiva scaevolas.

Gold says Suntory’s focus on quality and longevity made their introductions succeed. “The Suntory variety selection model has always been putting the consumer first to provide products that will provide maximum quality and landscape performance,” he says.

Danny Takao of Takao Nursery, who produces the Sun Parasol mandevillas, says Suntory realizes it is consumer who are the ultimate judge of their breeding. “They understand all their breeding must have good garden performance to have value to the consumer, something some of the breeding programs forget,” Takao says. “In the central part of California, our temperatures swing from the low 30s in the winter to low 100s in the summer. Trialing and seeing for myself how well the plants performed throughout the year made me understand the garden performance Suntory breeds into plants.”

James Russell of Armstrong Growers, the largest independent garden center chain in the United States, has really gotten behind the Suntory lines and even has trucks with large pictures of Million Bells driving up and down the California coast.

“Suntory’s willingness to work with retailers to promote and build brand awareness has been the greatest asset in retail,” Russell says. “The people at Suntory are some of the most professional, likeable and innovative people in the horticultural business. Personal friendships are part of the package at Suntory.”

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

  1. Can someone tell me why a breeder like Suntory who has medal of excellence for their products, chooses craps propagators and why there is no way to contacting the breeder?

  2. Can someone tell me why a breeder like Suntory who has medal of excellence for their products, chooses craps propagators and why there is no way to contacting the breeder?

More From Varieties...
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Edibles

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In Columbus, OH

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianthus

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Ed…

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In …

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianth…

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More

July 19, 2016

17 New Vegetable Intros For Greenhouse Production

New varieties of edibles introduced at 2016 California Spring Trials offer something for every type of gardener, from the beginning do-it-yourselfer to the hardcore, heirloom-only type. Check out some of the new varieties we saw at Spring Trials this year that will be available for retail in 2017.

Read More
One Earth Edibles From Peace Tree Farm

July 16, 2016

How To Capture Your Share Of The Edibles Market

At Peace Tree Farm, One Earth Edibles represent healthy living on a healthy planet.

Read More
Terra Nova Nurseries Catalog

July 15, 2016

New Product Catalog From Terra Nova Nurseries Designed …

The new catalog, which made its debut at Cultivate’16, offers easy access to organized genera grouped alphabetically, and also by size, color, habit, top sellers, photography, newest varieties, and USDA horticultural zones.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 8, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Ope…

The 20th annual event will feature new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as annuals, combos, and Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles and Fragrants line.

Read More
NatureSweet

July 5, 2016

NatureSweet And Ganfer Partner On Tomato Production

The partnership will add more than 250 acres of NatureSweet greenhouse tomato production over the next three years.

Read More
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

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