Here's our recap of what was interesting and impactful in the world of hort this week.
Organic sales up 13%, but not in all segments
As seen in GreenTalks by Jennifer Duffield White
Gary's View: Living in Boulder, CO we are well aware of the benefits of eating many products that are produced organically; many fruits, vegetables, and all meats. The costs of organic production is higher than conventional but the benefits are obvious. However, when the organic band wagon spreads to non-food crops, as the survey points out, the consumer doesn’t see the benefits of paying more. Organic production of ornamentals is difficult to justify, in my opinion, with the results of higher costs to the consumer and lower sales to the producer.
I believe national experts in the field of health have been responsible for driving increases in certain crops. Andrew Weil, M.D., has published a list of foods you should always buy organic with apples at the top of the list and in the survey apples showed the highest increase (up 20%). Lettuce doesn’t appear on the list and is down 1%.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas (Imported)
- Hot Peppers
- Collard Greens
USDA Floriculture Crops 2015 Summary
As released by the USDA
Gary's View: The USDA Floriculture Crops Survey is our best source for information on how the floriculture industry is doing as a whole in the US. The survey is conducted in the top 15 producing states of growers with estimated wholesale sales of $10,000 and more.
The 2015 Floriculture Crop Survey shows sales up 4% over 2014 at $4.37 billion (the highest sales volume over any year in the past decade). This increase has stopped a two year slide from sales in 2012 and managed to just top 2012 sales. No question, this shows a positive trend for our industry.
The number of producers has increase by 5% from 5,606 in 2014 to 5,913 in 2015. The biggest gain of 372 was in the mid-sized producers (sales of $50,000 - $99,999) and a decrease in the number of producers smallest (67 fewer with sales of $10,000 - $19,000) and larger producers (84 fewer with sales of $100,000 - $499,000).
The big increase in the mid-sized producer tells me that the industry has a strong independent retail market, which is a very positive trend for the industry. The continuing drop of the smallest producers is driven by the inability to cover costs and the difficulty in finding a buyer when the owner retires. The large drop in the larger producer is the problem of being stuck in the middle with rising costs and no market to the big box or the independents.
Bottom line, the 2015 survey is a big positive for Floriculture. View the complete report here.
Kitchen Counter Gardening Leads Garden Media Group's Annual Trends List
As seen in Greenhouse Grower by Carol Miller
Suzanne's View: There seems to be a theme on what catches my eye, last week it was gardening with your kids leads to healthy eating and this week is an extension of that, saying that it doesn't have to end when the leaves start to fall. I love this trend and think we should do more to support it. Not only is it healthy and keeps people engaged with our industry but it will help to keep sales coming in more year round as well.
As for trend #2 (Clean, Healthy Living) this goes hand in hand with gardening year round. I also think that consumers are becoming so much more aware of what chemicals and pesticides are being used on everything around them. The modern consumer will not eat chemicals but they also do not want them in their environment, I tend to agree. While Gary mentions above that he is not sure the cost is justified when it comes to ornamentals I might (respectfully) disagree and share another side of the story. Though the sales might not show it yet, I think it is a growing trend and something we can not ignore on the production side. I think consumers will continue to ask for more organically grown products regardless if they are eating them or not.
That's a sample of what we found newsworthy and interesting. We'd love to hear about what caught your eye too.