Terminology helps marketers steer greenhouse messages

03/08/2012 11:32:00 AM
Susie Cable

Produce marketers think using phrases such as "greenhouse grown" or "hothouse" on labels and in marketing materials helps convey important messages about quality.

For The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, "greenhouse grown" indicates that an item was produced in a protected environment with integrated pest controls, but it means more than that, said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.

"We feel that it communicates a great tasting, consistent product that’s grown with care and attention," Quon said.

"Consumers are getting a product that tastes like it was grown in their own backyard."

Kevin Batt, director of sales for BC Hot House Foods Inc., Langley, British Columbia, said that having the phrase "hothouse" in the company’s name is an advantage.

Forecasts for greenhouse vegetable production are typically more accurate than for field production because greenhouse growers maintain control over the growing climates.

Retailer buyers can book advertisements weeks or even months in advance with greenhouse vegetables, Batt said.

Buyers who read that a product is hothouse- or greenhouse-grown can expect to receive good produce, he said.

"It lends confidence that you’re getting a high-quality, premium product that’s grown naturally indoors," Batt said.

Greenhouse-grown vegetables enjoy a reputation among consumers as being healthy and safe vegetables.

Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing for Mucci Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, said he thinks the average consumer is becoming more aware of the benefits of greenhouse produce.

Quon also said he thinks today’s consumers are more aware and educated about production.

"I believe people want to know how their produce is grown and where it’s grown," Quon said.

JemD Farms, Leamington, Ontario, uses the phrase "greenhouse vegetables" in the logos for its brands, Red Sun and Golden Sun.

Jim DiMenna, president, said he thinks the term "greenhouse" is useful in specifying how the company grows its produce. It grows hydroponically in high-technology greenhouses.

Because some marketers of shade house-grown produce ride the coattails of successful greenhouse vegetable marketing by calling their products "greenhouse-grown," it’s important to inform buyers and consumers about the differences in techniques, DiMenna said.

Shade houses are fields covered with cloth. They protect plants that are rooted in soil.

The simplest definition of "hydroponics" is the production of plants without soil. Leamington-based Nature Fresh Farms Inc. grows its produce hydroponically in high-tech greenhouses in Canada, said Jay Colasanti, who works in sales and marketing.

Most of it is grown in coconut-shell fiber.

All of JemD’s produce is grown hydroponically, DiMenna said.

While hydroponically produced items might not look different from those grown in soil, DiMenna said they hold up better in the store and in consumers’ homes.

He said shelf life and quality are better for hydroponic greenhouse produce.

Delta, British Columbia-based Village Farms International used to have the trademarked word "Hydroperfect" on its logo, but it has decided "greenhouse grown" is a more consumer-friendly phrase, said Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

Company research found many consumers didn’t know what hydroponics meant, or they associated it negatively with controversial growing techniques.

"Greenhouse grown" is more easily understood by consumers, and it conjures a friendlier image, said Helen Aquino, marketing manager.

Instead of trying to explain the technology of hydroponics, the company focuses on promoting its tagline, "Good for the Earth," which communicates to consumers about the benefits for them, including water conservation and consistent year-round products.



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Madcom    
sydney  |  March, 08, 2012 at 05:31 PM

It doesn't work for me! These terms are attributes not benefits.

Ceciliae    
Blacksburg  |  March, 15, 2012 at 05:05 PM

At Recirculating Farms Coalition anything that helps promote the use of this healthy local food is beneficial! It is great that we are examining how these terms influence consumers choices. To learn more about recirculating farms visit: www.recirculatingfarms.com

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