“And the survey says … ”

May 02, 2008
Written by Myron Love
Our annual poinsettia season survey suggests sales last fall were up in some areas

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OMAFRA greenhouse floriculture specialist Wayne Brown, with Ecke’s ‘Orange Spice,’ one of the brightest oranges on the market.
Poinsettia sales in 2007 increased on the east and west coasts, remained steady in central Canada and Manitoba, and were down slightly in Québec, Saskatchewan and Alberta, according to a number of greenhouse growers surveyed across the country for Greenhouse Canada.

Rick Rabb, general manager of CF Greenhouses in Leamington, Ontario, reports they grow about 190,000 poinsettias a season primarily for the Toronto area, along with some sales in Detroit. “Sales were about the same as last year,” he says of the season just passed. “They (sales) were off and on, depending on the weather.”

Vanderveen’s Greenhouses Ltd. in Carman, Manitoba, about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg, sold all of its poinsettias as it does every year. Vanderveen’s grew 160,000 poinsettias in 2007, with production and sales similar to last year’s figures, notes Kelvin Vanderveen.
The southern Manitoba greenhouse supplies customers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

For Theresa Eden in Victoria, British Columbia, it was a wonderful sales season. Her Hilltop Greenhouse sold 20,000 more plants this past season than the year before. “It was amazing,” she says. “We try to add more plants every year.”

In the Calgary area in neighbouring southern Alberta, Bruce Wright says his Balzac Garden Centre sold about 10,000 poinsettias in 2007. That is slightly down from the previous year, he says.

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OMAFRA greenhouse floriculture specialist Wayne Brown (at right) coordinates annual poinsettia trials at the Vineland campus of the University of Guelph.
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Red remains the most popular colour. For some growers, it represents 80 per cent of their sales.
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The Vineland campus of the University of Guelph hosts one of the largest poinsettia trials in North America. Some 110 varieties were displayed last fall.
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Linwell Gardens (St. Catharines, Ontario) growers Jeff Groen (at left) and Tomek Jankowiak check out Dummen’s ‘Marco Polo’ during last fall’s Vineland poinsettia trials.

“At first, we thought that sales were down because of the weather,” Wright says. “We had a cold snap in late November and a lot of snow in December when the crop was at its peak. But on further considering the situation, we think it was psychological. The provincial government’s decision to take a larger share of royalties from the gas and oil industry will have an impact on Calgary.”

Priscilla Mah, of Central Botanical Gardens in Saskatoon, notes that sales were also down a bit in 2007. The company is a supplier to chain stores and florists in Saskatchewan. “We usually sell 20,000 poinsettia plants,” she says.

In Qu<1>bec, Michel Senecal, the provincial government’s floriculture crop advisor, reports that demand was down while supply was high. “Consumers seem to be more interested in spending their money on electronics and other gift items,” he says. “Growers have been developing more custom packaging of poinsettias to try to increase sales.”

Den Haan’s Garden Centre in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley has been growing poinsettias for 30 years. “Our poinsettia sales this past season started off weak, but finished very strong,” says Darlene den Haan.

Like a few other respondents, she first attributed the slower early sales figures to the weather. However, she has since concluded that people in her area prefer fresh poinsettias for the holidays, and they’ll wait until just before Christmas to buy them.

While den Haan’s used to grow 15,000 poinsettia plants a year, the garden centre now only produces about 1,500, partly a reflection of the declining population in the region.

As reported in our previous surveys, red remains far and away the most popular colour. “We sell about 75 per cent red with the rest divided between pink, white and novelty varieties,” den Haan says.

In Québec, Michel Senecal reports that the red varieties remain the most popular.

Rick Rabb notes that red accounted for 80 to 85 per cent of CF’s poinsettia sales, a figure similar to what Kelvin Vanderveen, Priscilla Mah and Theresa Eden all report.

Rabb says that there was some additional interest in the Toronto area for burgundy.

“We tried some different pinks and whites,” Vanderveen says.

Mah reports that while there was more interest in different colours last year, the same demand didn’t hold true this year. “There was some interest in the ‘Jingle Bells’ (red with pink splotches) variety this year,” she says.

Eden notes that on the West Coast, a variety called ‘Picasso’ (“it looks like a ketchup chip!”) was a good seller.

Southern Alberta seems to have been somewhat the exception to the red tide. Bruce Wright says that red poinsettias accounted for just 60 to 65 per cent of sales. “Whites were very popular and there was still some demand for burgundy.”

Myron Love is a freelance writer and photographer in Winnipeg.


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