Some companies eagerly promote their products as “greenhouse grown,” while others say using the phrase as a marketing tool doesn’t make sense for their businesses.
The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, specifically markets its greenhouse vegetables as “greenhouse-grown,” said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.
He said consumers view greenhouses as beneficial, and they associate the company’s growing practices with high-quality produce.
If consumers don’t understand what it means to use protected agriculture, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try use the phrase when promoting products to them, said Chris Ciruli, partner and chief operating officer at Ciruli Bros. LLC, Rio Rico, Ariz.
“You can tell a consumer that we reduce pesticide use when we use protected agriculture, but I don’t think they totally understand the benefits,” Ciruli said.
That’s where consumer education becomes important. Some retail chain stores do try to educate shoppers about protected agriculture and then use it as a selling point, Ciruli said.
Some retailers place point-of-sales pamphlets describing greenhouse techniques, while others use video displays to show how products are grown and what greenhouses look like.
Delta, British Columbia-based Village Farms International’s logo prominently features the phrase “greenhouse grown.”
The phrase has been in the company’s logo for more than two decades, and it survived this fall’s rebranding initiative that included revamping the logo.
Despite the fact that Village Farms grows all of its produce hydroponically, the logo does not mention hydroponics.
Before the redesign, Village Farms’ trademarked “Hydroperfect” appeared at the top of the logo, but company research found many consumers didn’t know what hydroponics meant, or they associated it in a negative way with controversial techniques such as bioengineering, said Helen Aquino, marketing manager.
Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Village Farms, said he thinks hydroponic greenhouse growers could do a better job of educating consumers about the advantages of hydroponics, which at Village Farms include water conservation and better land use.
Kling said once consumers understand hydroponic greenhouse techniques, they want to know where to buy the produce.
Nogales, Ariz.-based SunFed markets both greenhouse- and shade house-grown vegetables. It doesn’t distinguish between the two when promoting, said Danny Mandel, principal.
“Both structures, when professionally constructed, offer tremendous advantages to the grower and result in important improvements in both quality and productivity,” Mandel said.
Because Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International LLC offers both field and hot house peppers year-round, it doesn’t promote one as being better than the other, said Mike Aiton, marketing director.
“Our objective is just to have availability on both … throughout the year,” he said. “We don’t promote one to the detriment of the other.”
San Antonio-based NatureSweet Ltd. doesn’t use protected agriculture as a promotional strategy at retail.
Although its tomatoes are produced through protected agriculture, the company has chosen to focus consistently on two other strategic messages, said Bobby Patton, vice president of marketing.
The primary message is that NatureSweet’s tomatoes have a perfect flavor year-round. The second message is that each tomato is perfect for a particular type of occasion.
NatureSweet communicates on its website about its growing techniques, sustainability efforts, treatment of employees and other practices, Patton said.