NEWS on the GROW

December 12, 2003 - 08:46

FPO's Flowers. Alive With Possibilities
Campaign Reaches Atlanta

The Flower Promotion Organization's (FPO) Flowers. Alive
with Possibilities promotion campaign has reached the Atlanta market through a
partnership with the Atlanta Metro Flower Delivery Cooperative.

The campaign was developed in five initial markets, Chicago,
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia. "We really
learned how much it takes to sustain a successful campaign; what we need to do
to get awareness up," said Will Carlson, FPO managing director.

The Atlanta campaign promoted consumer flower purchases
through billboards, cab toppers, cable and local network television, radio ads
and a TV design demonstration.

Response to the campaign has picked up as the holiday season
approaches, Carlson said. Also, he said the response to the FPO Web site
(www.flowerpossibilities.com) has been exciting, with consumers requesting free
brochures and downloading pictures of floral arrangement recipes. FPO also
promotes live demonstrations of floral decorating on local TV shows in key
markets. Its holiday home decorating design segment (with TV spokesperson Jill
Slater) will air throughout the holiday season on HGTV's "Carol Duvall
Show."

FPO currently is reaching more than 90 of the top 100
markets, Carlson said, with small and local markets picking up FPO releases.
Currently, it is meeting with floral associations in Michigan and Connecticut
to discuss partnering for major market initiatives.

The FPO is an alliance of U.S. and South American fresh cut
flower growers, formed to increase consumer demand for fresh-cut flowers and to
expand the U.S. market for the industry. The Flowers. Alive with Possibilities
campaign was launched in 1999 and positions flowers as a natural, easy, simple
and inexpensive way to improve and freshen up the home and office.

New Rose Variety Wins SAF Best of Show

Eufloria Flowers of Nipomo, Calif., won Best in Show for its
standard rose 'Milva' at the Society of American Florists' (SAF) Outstanding
Varieties Competition.

According to judge Walter Rojahn, of Rojahn & Malaney in
Milwaukee, Wis., the Best in Show winner was the "perfect example" of
the exciting new products being created by the industry. "Strong varieties
make us all look good, and there were plenty of them (at the
competition)," he said.

SAF's Outstanding Varieties Competition showcases the industry's
most exciting flowers, foliage and plants. This year's competition involved
more than 300 entries.

In addition to Milva in the rose class, Best in Class awards
went to the following: chrysanthemum class -- 'Yellow Anastasia' by Esmeralda
Farms, Inc.; cut bulb class -- Oriental lily 'Sumatra' by Sun Valley Group;
dianthus class -- 'Dream' by Dole Fresh Flowers; potted flowering plant class
-- hibiscus 'Pink Chiffon' by exotic hibiscus; other cut flower class --
limonium 'Chorus Magenta' by Gardens America, Inc.; decorative foliage class --
rhamnus 'Mellano Selection Rhamnus' by Mellano & Company; and Potted
Foliage Plant class -- aechmea 'Lauren' by Kent's Bromeliad.

A complete list of Best in Class and Blue and Red Ribbon
winners is available at www.safnow.org.

ANLA Announces 2004 Management Clinic Information

The American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) will
hold its 2004 Management Clinic January 22-25 in Louisville, Ky. The Management
Clinic focuses on development and training of green industry business
professionals.

The theme of this year's meeting, "Start Your
Engines," urges retailers, growers, distributors and landscape
professionals to begin early preparations for spring 2004. The Management Clinic
offers 72 sessions in nine categories: Retail Business Basics, Retail Business
Management, Landscape Business Management, Design/Build, Grower Business
Management, Landscape Distribution, Personal Growth, Human Resources and
Finance, and Team Building.

Highlights of this year's meeting include new sessions by
speakers presenting to the green industry for the first time. Todd Wickstrom,
managing partner of Zingerman's Delicatessen, will discuss the operational and
service training secrets that enable his firm to post more than $6 million in
sales from less than 2,000 sq.ft. John Spence, a consultant to the Fortune 500,
will address high-performance team building, corporate strategy and conflict
resolution. Keynotes include presentations on delivering "positively
outrageous" customer service; dealing with workplace stress and balancing
the demands of work and family; and effective communication, teamwork and
morale building.

A complete schedule of events and other important
information on ANLA's 2004 Management Clinic can be found at href="http://www.managementclinic.org/">www.managementclinic.org.

National Gardening Association Announces National Garden Month 2004

The National Gardening Association (NGA) has begun
promotions for National Garden Month 2004. Nationally, National Garden Month
will be held in April, "but regionally, we tell people to celebrate it
when it works in their area," said Rose Getch of the NGA. The national
kick-off event is March 26 in the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

National Gardening Month debuted in its full-month format in
April 2003, an extension of the National Garden Week celebration proclaimed by
Ronald Reagan in 1986. Since 1986, interest in gardening has exploded, with
more than 85 million households doing some form of gardening. "We thought
one week really was not enough," Getch explained.

By celebrating the efforts and contributions of gardeners
and how gardening touches many aspects of society, National Gardening Month
attempts to emphasize the potential of the green pastime to gardeners and
non-gardeners alike.

According to the NGA, 79 percent of America's households
participated in one or more types of do-it-yourself indoor and outdoor lawn and
garden activities in 2002. Consumers spent $39.6 billion on their lawns and
gardens that year, an average of $466 per household. Over the past five years,
average annual spending on green activities has grown by about 4 percent per
year and total lawn and garden sales have increased at a compound annual growth
rate of 8 percent.

National Garden Month is a collaborative initiative between
the NGA and numerous green groups, gardening organizations and lawn and garden
companies. The National Garden Month Web site, www.nationalgardenmonth.org,
serves as a gateway for National Garden Month activities. The site features a
directory of supporting organizations, a searchable calendar of events across
the country and resources for gardeners and those in the gardening industry.

Organizations already on-board for National Garden Month
2004 include America in Bloom, American Community Gardening Association,
American Horticultural Society, American Nursery & Landscape Association,
Green Guerillas, National Garden Bureau, National Wildlife Federation,
People-Plant Council, Plant A Row for the Hungry, "Remember Me" Rose
Garden and United States Botanic Garden.

Research Looks at Genetically Improving Drought Tolerance

Research being conducted at the Plant Stress Research unit
at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is focusing on ways of
genetically improving a plant's ability to cope with drought. As discussed in a
paper by Shaun Peters, University of Cape Town, scientists are using Xerophyta
viscosa, a resurrection plant able to survive long periods without water, as a
source of genes that code for the proteins responsible for the resurrection
phenomenon.

According to the research, X. viscosa's ability to survive
extreme temperatures, high winds and lack of water is genetically coded. The
scientists are focusing on how these enabling genes are expressed in X.
viscosa. So far, the scientists have identified a number of genes from the
plant that may provide the key. These genes are then cloned into
drought-sensitive species of other plants. Once the scientists have achieved
success with these model plant experiments, they will use the results to
engineer other stress-tolerant crops.

Home Depot To Single Vendor?

The long-anticipated single-vendor system for specific live
goods categories The Home Depot has been talking about for years may come to
pass sooner rather than later, according to industry sources. Sources say the
retailer has invited selected merchants to be the single vendors for certain
live goods in some of its stores for the spring 2004 season.

In a call to confirm information about suppliers, Dean
Chaloupka, president of Floral Plant Growers of Denmark, Wis., said that his
company will be responsible for supplying the annuals, vegetables and
perennials to 39 Home Depot stores in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said
this means that if Floral Plant Growers does not have the product, it will be
responsible for finding the product from another grower. If the company cannot
find the product, Chaloupka added, it will be responsible for notifying the buyer
so the buyer can source the business elsewhere, implying a single-vendor
relationship. Chaloupka added that this is not a new policy for his company in
this region, though it might be for other regions.

In a call to The Home Depot, a representative, who declined
to be quoted, said that the information was incorrect. The Home Depot might
experiment with limited vendors, but would not use just one and was not looking
to institute single-vendor as a nation wide policy.

If mass merchant retailing were to shift to single-supplier
stores, there could be far-reaching consequences for the industry. A majority
of large growers now sells at least some product to The Home Depot. If the
retailer does indeed move to single-vendor arrangements, many growers stand to
lose a significant source of business, though the selected vendors would
benefit greatly from increased, focused merchandising efforts.

Wal-Mart Outlines RFID Plan For Suppliers

Various news outlets are reporting that in early November, Wal-Mart
met with approximately 100 representatives of its top suppliers to outline its
requirements for use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) in the
coming years.

RFID tags use radio frequencies to transmit information. The
tags can carry more information about a product than currently used bar codes
and can be scanned more quickly. According to RFID Journal, RFID technology
offers companies a way to capture accurate, real-time information about the
products they make, move and sell.

In June, Wal-Mart announced it would ask its top suppliers
to use the RFID technology on shipping pallets and cases by January 2005, and
all suppliers would be expected to comply by January 2006.

The New York Times cites a report by consulting firm A.T.
Kearney, concluding that, after an initial investment, the technology
ultimately will save Wal-Mart and other retailers who use it billions of
dollars through more precise tracking of inventory and decreased labor costs in
inventory management. Also citing Kearney research, the article states that
suppliers will need to invest millions of dollars to comply with the RFID
requirement, depending on the volume of business the supplier does with
Wal-Mart and the cost of the tags (which the article states is currently around
15 cents per tag but is expected to drop in price).

In addition to concerns suppliers will have about the cost
of implementation, some organizations have expressed concerns about potential
privacy issues, should the technology become widespread and be used on
individual purchase items, in addition to shipping pallets and cases.

Kalamazoo Co-op General Manager Resigns

The general manager of Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers Co-op
has resigned, Ron Sportel, chairman of the Co-op's board of directors has
confirmed. A search committee has been formed and efforts are underway to find
a replacement.

According to Sportel, former general manager Ron Lebiecki
had held the general manager position (first on an interim basis, then
permanent) for a total of about three and a half years. Before being general
manager, Lebiecki had been controller for the Co-op. Sportel said Lebiecki
decided to return to the accounting field.

The Co-op hopes to have a new general manager in place for
the spring 2004 growing season, Sportel said, but added that he realizes this
may not be possible. "The Co-op has a tremendous staff, and we are
confident we will be able to go forward." 

The Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers Co-op was formed in 1967
with 18 original growers. Today, the group has 55 members. Chairman Sportel is
owner of one of the members, Sportel's Greenhouses.

Hand-Weeding Ban Pushes Buttons in California

Debate continues on attempts to ban the agricultural
practice of hand weeding in California. Agricultural labor groups filed a
petition with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(Cal-OSHA) to ban the practice, and as a result, an advisory committee was
formed. The committee is composed of an equal number of labor and industry
representatives, said Mike Webb, head lobbyist for the Western Growers
Association (WGA), which represents growers who produce 90 percent of the
fruits, nuts and vegetables in California. WGA strongly opposes a ban.

"Almost any crop grown in California would be affected by
the ban," Webb said, including nursery crops. "Hand weeding is a
practicality for growers. It's absolutely essential to the industry."

Those seeking a ban on hand weeding cite potential back
injuries as the reason and advocate use of long-handled implements instead.
These tools are not practical for many crops, Webb said.

Growers say the practice is used as selectively as possible,
because it is very expensive. They also say that a ban on hand weeding could
lead to increased pesticide use.

Groups seeking to ban hand weeding had introduced a bill in
the California legislature, Webb said, but opponents of the ban were able to
defeat it.

The advisory committee is meeting periodically to see
whether the two sides can find some common ground, Webb said. If Cal-OSHA does
process the petition further, there will an opportunity for comment on any
proposed regulatory action. For more information go www.wga.com.

Update

In the trade shows and events section of the GPN 2003/2004
Resource & Buyers Guide please note that the 2004 Perennial Plant Symposium
and Trade Show is listed in two places at two different dates and locations.
The correct date and location is as follows:

July 5-10: 2004 Perennial Plant Symposium and Trade Show

New York, N.Y.

(614) 771-8431

www.perennialplant.org

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