Why It’s Time for the Plant Industry to Raise Our Prices

Why It’s Time for the Plant Industry to Raise Our Prices

New Plant Display at Retail plant pricingCannabis is now fully legal in Canada for medical and adult use. While there are mixed emotions in the traditional horticulture industry about cannabis legalization and everything that comes with it, we need to look at its potential as an emerging crop and industry, and as an opportunity for greenhouse producers — both for those who grow it and those who don’t. Cannabis is most certainly not going away, and we in the U.S. can learn some lessons from our friends and colleagues to the north in Canada as they adapt to cannabis as a reality.

With the Trump Administration ever waffling on whether to continue to block cannabis federally or make it legal, cannabis industry proponents expressing concern over Canadian businesses having an advantage over U.S. businesses in securing market share, and bills for full legalization filed in Washington D.C., it’s possible that the U.S. could follow in Canada’s footsteps toward full legalization in the near future.

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If you’re not growing cannabis currently, and not planning to touch the stuff commercially, you may be wondering why this has anything to do with you. Bear with me.

At the Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Niagara Falls last month, I learned that several of the ornamental and greenhouse vegetable growers along the QEW (major highway in Ontario) are reportedly converting their greenhouse space over to cannabis or have been approached to sell or lease their facilities to cannabis producers. With the rapid transfer of greenhouse space moving to cannabis, ornamental breeders told me they are concerned with the reduction of genetics in the Canadian marketplace. Likewise, those growers remaining in ornamentals are starting to make plans to build more greenhouses to supply the demand for plants at retail. But while they get their plans together, and perhaps before charging ahead to fill the benches left empty by their former fellow flower growers, I hope they’ll pause and reflect on this unique opportunity. This could be the perfect chance for ornamental growers to reposition their products as lifestyle items and ask for the money they deserve for their crops. Whether or not they will is the question.

In discussions at the conference, some growers said they hadn’t raised prices yet. It seemed like they were waiting to see what would happen once cannabis became officially legal on Oct. 17. It’s likely this holiday season’s potted plant sales supply and demand will be telling about what retailers expect and how much growers can ask for their crops.

But we need to change that line of thinking, from naturally defaulting to sell crops just above cost (if you know your costs) to what the market will bear.

We can’t legally conspire to raise prices, but we can change our attitudes about what we believe we are worth. If we devalue our own time, hard work, and the products we grow by accepting prices that don’t even cover our costs, or allow us to make a profit and run financially sustainable businesses, then how can we expect retail buyers and ultimately, our end consumers, to understand our value proposition? And if we don’t ask for more and make a case for why we deserve it, then we’ll definitely never get it and can only blame ourselves.

We grow unique products that beautify the world and enhance human wellness and the quality of life in a multitude of ways. It’s time we start having more confidence in our products and what the market will bear, and demand retailers and consumers honor our value.