Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.
“This was our best year on poinsettias in recent memory,” said Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses. “Great quality, great sell-through and our retail partners all enjoyed healthy gains in business with the SKUs they carried. We were up around 10 percent overall in sales, and increased sell-through, as well.”
Chris Rogers of B&M Greenhouse agreed, saying “Good weather (cold in November) put shoppers in the Christmas mood early. Even though December was wet, there was no snow. It was a good-looking crop, and very few were left over.”
Larry Gouer of Mary’s Greenhouse said, “Sold Out — only the second time in 40 years.”
And Trey Rosacker of Floral Acres said it all with his overall impression of the 2014 season: “Best in my 35 years as grower and owner.”
Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country.
About The 2014 Poinsettia Survey
Half of the respondents to our 2014 Poinsettia Survey were grower-retailers, while 44 percent were wholesale growers and 6 percent were young plant growers.
The majority of responses were from the Midwest (30 percent), Northeast (21 percent) and Southeast (19 percent), followed by the West (9 percent), Southwest (4 percent) and Northeast (1 percent). Another 14 percent were from outside the U.S.
The largest group of responses came from growers with less than 50,000 square feet of greenhouse space (44 percent). The next largest groups had 50,000 to 100,000 square feet (19 percent), 500,000 to 1 million square feet (10 percent), 100,000 to 250,000 square feet (10 percent) and 250,000 to 500,000 square feet (9 percent). Five percent had 1 to 3 million square feet, while 3 percent had more than 3 million square feet.
“Strong market this year,” said Ed Vermolen of Aldershot Greenhouses. “Some of the big guys grew millions less than previous years, which helped keep prices up to the end.”
Timothy Moore of Lucas Greenhouses said, “Demand seemed strong throughout the season. We were sold out on most items before Thanksgiving even arrived. Not sure if the increased demand was due to more growers either getting out of the crop altogether or cutting back. We had an overall cutback in 2014, but this was completely due to a reduction in our chain size (6 inch). Normal, florist-quality grade sizes all held firm or increased.”
Poinsettia Growers Fared Well In 2014
Of our 143 respondents, 82 percent said they grew poinsettias in 2014, while 18 percent did not. Compared to production in 2013, when 43 percent of growers reported flat production, in 2014, 38 percent saw growth in the number of units produced, 36 percent said production numbers were flat and 26 percent say production numbers reduced.
Fifty-nine percent of growers said they grow poinsettias to increase their operations’ profit margin, while 41 percent said they grow poinsettias to cover overhead costs.
One grower produced poinsettias for the very first time in 2014, and said he found them to be easier to grow than expected.
“Poinsettias seem very hard to raise if you read the books and manuals,” said Rob Butcher of Butcher Family Farm. “Maybe we had beginners’ luck, or maybe it was just common sense and paying attention to details. We had one experienced grower give us a few tips, which made it better. Some told me it was the hardest crop they ever raised; others said it was the easiest. The worst part was cold temperatures, high natural gas usage and establishing customers!”
Production in 2014 seems to have been successful across the board, with 16 percent of respondents saying they didn’t dump any poinsettias and 55 percent saying they dumped less than 5 percent of their production. Another 20 percent said they ended up dumping 5 to 10 percent of their crop, and 9 percent said they dumped 10 percent or more. These numbers are improved over 2013, when only 6 percent said they didn’t dump any poinsettias.
“Great season — we sold all but 12 poinsettias out of 1,100 grown in our greenhouse,” said Jeff Otto of Otto’s Oasis.
Growers reducing production or getting out of poinsettias entirely was a coup for other growers.
“We had a few other growers in our area stop growing poinsettias this year; hence, we saw an increase in demand in our retail stores,” said Jen Kolenc of Casa Verde Greenhouses.
Joe Heidgen of Shady Hill Gardens said, “It was a good season. On the whole, the crop was a little larger and a little earlier than normal, due to such a bright fall. Weather was on our side and retail traffic continued throughout the whole season.”
Premium Poinsettia Sizes Improved Sales
High demand for larger sizes helped growers sell premium products.
“Sales were later this year,” said Jerry Kelley of A+ Garden Centre, a school-run operation. “Yet, the first two weeks of December, customers were looking for larger decorative combinations. We sold out early with twice the inventory of larger plantings.”
The 6.5-inch size was the best seller in 2014, said 42 percent of our survey respondents, while another 33 percent said the 6-inch size sold best and the 8-inch was the next bestseller, according to 13 percent of growers.
On average, wholesale prices were down slightly for smaller sizes, but increased for 6.5-, 8- and 10-inch poinsettias, compared to 2013. However, average retail prices were up across the board, except for 6-inch poinsettias (see Table 3).
Red Remains King, But Good News For Whites And Novelties
As always, red remains the best-selling color at retail, according to 94 percent of respondents. Splitting the season up into early, mid and late portions, 56 percent of growers said they grow three or fewer different red varieties for retail, 33 percent grow four to six varieties of red poinsettias and 10 percent grow seven or more.
White had a bigger year in 2014, and so did novelties like marble varieties and glitter-covered poinsettias. Buyers snapped up these specialty items early, while white poinsettias were popular throughout the season.
“We sold out of white on New Year’s Eve,” said Holly Dayley of Vineyard Garden Center.
Phil DeGoede of DeGoede Brothers said, “Customers are very interested in novelty varieties early, but red is still king of the core season.”Overall, novelty production largely stayed flat over the past two years, 49 percent of our respondents said, but 28 percent increased production of novelty poinsettias and 24 percent reduced the number of novelties they grew.
Take-Aways From The 2014 Season
- Sales were strong throughout, with novelties selling out early and whites extending the season.
- Plants were high-quality, and more growers sold out than dumped extras.
- Less supply in the market increased demand and profitability for growers who did produce poinsettias.
- Growers getting out of the poinsettia game in favor of other crops may improve the situation for everyone, reducing market saturation and increasing profitability.