On Nov. 10, 2004, the American Floral Endowment (AFE) hosted a conference in Chicago for industry leaders. The objective of the meeting was to discuss and prioritize major industry needs and opportunities. The Endowment Board of Trustees will use this information to review AFE objectives so that education and research investments are in areas that provide the most useful support to enhance industry success.
Some of the highest priority concerns for the industry leaders attending were:
- flat consumer demand based on decreasing numbers of new customers and increased competition from other consumer products, and
- thinning company margins at all levels, primarily due to increasing expenses associated with wages, healthcare, transportation and energy.
There was much discussion about the need for additional consumer and marketing information, as well as the need for increased industry consumer marketing to raise consumption. Meeting participants cited the value of the AFE supported 11-year Flora Stats Consumer Tracking Study and indicated a need for additional demographic, attitude and behavior information about floral consumers, as well as more forward-looking consumer research.
Conference attendees also expressed clear support for past AFE-sponsored scientific research, which has contributed important knowledge in the areas of improved product quality, dramatic changes in care and handling information, and improved production methodology.
Since 1961, AFE has been totally dedicated to funding research and educational development programs to benefit the entire floriculture industry. The Endowment is supported solely by contributions from businesses in every segment of the industry and will be holding its fundraising Phone-a-Thon in June 2005.
Most recently AFE changed management structures, in an effort to strengthen and enhance management and reduce costs. Effective Oct. 22, 2004, Hortica Insurance was retained to manage all administrative functions of the organization, and former executive vice president Steven Martinez is no longer with the Endowment.
Hortica will now streamline expenses and add depth to the Endowment’s management and financial controls. The combined effect of these decisions will allow dedication of more funds to support the Endowment’s mission of funding research and education in the critical areas of floricultural marketing and research, according to AFE.
Currently, the new management system is working well, whixh shows with the success of the recent summit. For more information on AFE visit www.endowment.org .