Edible Flowers May Be Your Next New Market

Edible Flowers May Be Your Next New Market

Close-up of dianthus flower

Dianthus edible flowers are preferred by the smooth-texture lover consumer segment.

Floral flavors are the number one consumer food trend for 2018, according to Whole Foods Market. For years, professional chefs have used edible flowers as garnishes or to give dishes a signature flavor.

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Consumers are now seeking new culinary experiences at home and experimenting with unconventional ingredients. The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) has been investigating consumer preference for edible flower varieties for positioning in the marketplace.

Edible flowers are surging in popularity as evidenced through research conducted at Vineland.

“In 2015, we surveyed consumers on their preferences for edible garden plants (strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries) and included an edible flower option in the study,” says Alexandra Grygorczyk, Ph.D., Vineland’s Research Scientist, Consumer Insights, who has been conducting research into edible flowers popularity. “We found 35% of respondents were highly interested in edible flowers and would prefer purchasing edible flowers for their garden over more traditional plants such as strawberries and raspberries.”

 

Two Consumer Groups Emerge for Edible Flower Sales
Freeman Herbs, a Canadian grower based in Beamsville, ON, and a distributor of fresh herbs, partnered with Vineland in 2017 to gain a better understanding of the consumable flowers market. Following Freeman Herbs’ production trials on more than 25 types of edible flowers that screened for ease of production, blooming, and compact shape for container production, 10 plants were selected for profiling by Vineland’s trained sensory panel and more than 200 Greater Toronto Area consumers.

“We were able to segment consumers in two groups: the bold-flavor fans (56%) favoring strong aromas and spicy tastes, and the smooth-texture lovers (44%) preferring smooth textured and subtly flavored flowers,” Grygorczyk says.

Results also showed that consumable flowers such as nasturtium and candy pop mint should be marketed to the bold-flavor fan group, while impatiens and dianthus are of interest to smooth-texture lovers.

“These research findings have been instrumental in outlining our business plan to expand into the potted edible flowers market,” says Jeff Nickerson, General Manager, Freeman Herbs, which plans to launch edible flowers in 4-inch pots in the produce aisle in 2019.

What’s next? Freeman Herbs is now focusing on an effective strategy for product positioning informed by a consumer survey launched by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

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