‘We have seen quite some changes at Ontario Flower Growers’

Winter has shown its face, with a week of snow and frost. The trees are bare and preparations for the winter are in full swing. The snow fence is set up, winter tires are under the cars and the AC foil is being installed. The AC foil will again ensure savings on the fossil fuel consumption, a more stable growing climate throughout the greenhouse, and a lower gas bill. It is a bit of a job, but after that it will be pleasantly warm in the greenhouse all winter.

Wood is also available to additionally heat the house in extreme cold weather. Deer hunting was open for a week in early November. Clen has seen 5 deer, but was not in a situation to shoot safely and effectively. The over-all success rate of the hunt is 13%. The hunters’ observations provide data to maintain a healthy and optimal deer population.

The auction is our largest buyer

Last week I attended the Annual General Meeting of Ontario Flower Growers in Mississauga, our florist flower auction. We have seen quite some changes in recent years. The number of members is falling due to aging. The number of buyers is also declining due to aging. New buyers do not like to come to the auction early in the morning and having to deal with the problem of traffic jams.

New buyers are more interested in remote buying, PAP (Pre-Auction Purchase) or buy BEFORE the clock is running, and Virtual Auction (today for tomorrow). Because the auction is our largest buyer, we try to respond to all methods of sale. The auction clock is still the most important method for us. Even though total sales for the clock are slowly decreasing, our sales for the clock are still increasing due to an expanding range of pot sizes.

We can set a good buy-back price for our plants (BB price + 13% commission for sales to florists) and our product can be sold over several days. For flowers this is more difficult and the buy-back price is close to the BB price. When the demand is good, 50% of the product supplied can be purchased BEFORE the auction (PAP) and is then removed from the carts. For this form the buyer pays 10% more than the buy-back price to the grower.

Virtual clock on Monday

Florists can also purchase products that have been bought back AFTER the auction (Warehouse Sale). This form of sale is increasing among florists who come to the auction later in the day. There is also a virtual clock on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (today for tomorrow). We make products available there, but we see no special demand for our plants here.

This year, the auction has invested in the expansion of the Cash and Carry. Because many florists buy, we also see an increase in sales here, in particular of smaller quantities and specialty products. OFG’s goal is to start selling 30% of sales here. Finally, there is BB (Web sale) of product made available online. In the coming year OFG is investing in the method.

As a supplier, we will first develop strategies for the various methods of sale through the auction, which fits in with our company and our sales. And then we must consistently implement those strategies every week. For a small company like Colorful Gardens, that is a challenge.

Angelle van Kleef,

Colorful Gardens, Ontario Canada

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