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The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

Consumer Perception of Sustainably Grown Bedding Plants

Tuesday, July 28, 2009: 1:45 PM
Jefferson C (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
Roberto G. Lopez, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Tanya J. Hall, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Jennifer Dennis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Consumer perception and value can influence the adoption of sustainable production for greenhouse growers. The objective of this study was to identify consumer knowledge and willingness to purchase sustainably produced bedding plants at a premium price.  Sustainably and conventionally grown geranium, marigold, vinca, petunia and New Guinea impatiens were delivered to five garden centers in Indiana.  At three of the garden centers, the sustainably grown plants were priced 20% higher than the conventionally grown plants.  The average price of the sustainable 4-inch New Guinea impatiens and geranium pots ranged from $4.79 to $7.19, and conventional petunias, marigolds and vinca ranged from $3.59 to $5.15.  We determined that 71% of the higher-priced sustainably grown plants sold at retail while 78% of the conventionally grown plants sold at the 20% lower price.  At the two other garden centers, sustainably grown plants were priced the same as conventionally grown plants.  Prices ranged from $3.99 to $4.49, and we found that 85% of sustainable plants sold versus 87% of conventional plants.  Approximately 80% of respondents who purchased the plants had not heard of sustainability.  The ten percent that had heard of this term stated they thought it meant “chemical free”, “earth friendly” and “harmless to the environment”.  From the survey responses, approximately 64% of plant sales were for environmentally friendly plants.  Fifty percent of the plants sold were influenced by the point of purchase display with another 23% of plants purchased that day were based on “what they were coming for that day”.  These results indicate that consumers are willing to purchase sustainable plants at similar rates as conventionally grown plants.  However, the maximum amount consumers are willing to pay for sustainable plants needs to be further analyzed.