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pohmer’s predictions for 2014
based on the work available at that time. Add this to the
number of people who have stopped looking for work, or PREDICTION Growers and retailers will communicate
their unemployment benefits have run out, and the real the real value (nonprice) that demonstrates the quality of
life enhancements that flowers and plants provide. The
unemployment rate hovers around 13.7 percent. A key research is already done and is readily available; it will just
measurement of this is the Labor Force Participation Rate, take one major industry player to get off the price-value
which currently stands at 63 percent, the lowest rate in bandwagon to start the industry moving in a new direc-
tion. (This is the third year in a row that I’ve made this pre-
the last 35 years. diction, and I’ve received failing grades so far. Is the third
time the charm?)
consumer confidence PREDICTION “Local,” “sustainable” and “organic” will all

When consumers don’t see stability and a growth trend go mainstream and become serious marketing platforms
for retailers.
in their personal, financial and professional lives, they lose
PREDICTION Water issues will get major governmental
confidence in their futures, and a lack of confidence trans-
involvement at the local, county, state and national levels.
lates into lower spending. They pay down debt, save money The floral industry will get ahead of the curve to educate
and defer purchases, especially on discretionary items. and inform policymakers before we get legislated to.
Consumer confidence is at two-year lows, and a recent sur- PREDICTION With growers cutting back on production
vey showed that only 29 percent of consumers say the econ- and inventories in response to challenging sales patterns
in 2011-2013, spot shortages will occur in all markets and
omy is “good,” and 60 percent think it will be poorer one all categories, especially in long lead time categories such
year from now. as trees and shrubs.
One of the major causes of this lack of confidence is con- PREDICTION Congress will actually accomplish some-
tinued government indecisiveness and polarization on key thing substantial in 2014, with common sense spending
and an actual budget passed, plans to balance the budg-
financial/economic/social issues such as immigration reform,
et and no further need to increase the debt ceiling. A Farm
health care, budgets and the debt ceiling, and this will con- Bill will pass. And both sides of the congressional aisles
tinue to be an issue with a budget deadline on Jan. 15 and a will work for the good of the people, not just their respec-
tive parties. (We can all have a dream, can’t we?)
decision needed on the debt ceiling just weeks after that.
weather
We’re experiencing more extremes in weather patterns, tion, it is selling the Dominick’s stores it operates in the
especially in temperatures, rainfall/drought and timing. In Chicago area.
2013, more than 60 percent of the United States suffered n BI-LO acquired Winn-Dixie’s stores and operations in
under drought conditions, and much of the Midwest and the Southeast; 20 Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina
Northeast experienced cool and wet weather during their and Georgia; and 165 Sweetbay, Harvey’s and Reid stores
peak outdoor product selling periods. from Delhaize America. It also sold some stores in North
One of the biggest challenges ahead is water availability Carolina and South Carolina to Publix Super Markets Inc.
and quality, which will directly affect producers and con- n The Kroger Co. acquired 212 Harris Teeter stores in
sumers. To start the discussions on the impending water the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.
challenges and impact on the green industry, a Cornell n Spartan Stores and Nash Finch Co. merged.
University Seeley Summit has been scheduled in Lisle, Ill., On the supply side, especially in big-box pay-by-scan
June 22-24. (For more information, go to www.hort.cornell.edu/ garden centers, program management is being turned over
seeleysummit/.) to fewer key growers/service providers that can cover broad-
er geographic areas.
consolidation

At the retail and supply levels, consolidation was ram- promotion
pant in 2013, both from companies closing their doors and There’s a move afoot for floral products to take advantage
from mergers and acquisitions to solidify and restructure of the locally grown movement that’s given rise to the rapid
key markets and brands. Highlights at the retail level this growth of farmers’ markets and new sourcing programs for
year included: produce. Many states have used their U.S. Department of
n Safeway Inc. sold its Canadian operations to Agriculture block grants to fund the development of state-
Sobey’s and vacated the Canadian marketplace. In addi- specific marketing programs.




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