Why collaboration among plant breeders can benefit the entire supply chain
Oct. 11, 2018
By Laura Drotleff
Collaboration is a big buzzword these days. Recording artists collaborate on new songs, scientists collaborate on research to develop new technological advancements, and politicians (ideally – we can all hope) collaborate to introduce bipartisan legislation.
In our industry, I’ve noticed an increase in collaboration among plant breeders to provide their grower customers with wider ranges of plant genetics and improved distribution. This is a welcome development, considering the number of varieties introduced each year that ultimately never make it to retail, let alone into consumers’ hands. Breeders have too many resources invested in plant development for varieties to go unnoticed — and unenjoyed.
The collaboration trend has been particularly popular in the perennials segment. With more perennials breeding and ongoing efforts by breeders to provide the supply chain with clean material for improved perennials production, it’s good to see companies working together to mainstream these beauties.
Must Have Perennials, a new brand born from Blooms of Bressingham, works with a network of commercial and independent breeders to bring new, innovative perennials to the market, while also continuing to support some of its traditional bestsellers. The brand emphasizes the importance of promoting plants that have been comprehensively trialed to ensure performance for growers and consumers.
In mid-July, Danziger and Syngenta Flowers announced the launch of a new marketing initiative to include their respective perennial portfolios in the U.S. and Canada in one offering under the brand name ThinkPlants. This new initiative demonstrated the companies’ continued commitment to growers, brokers, and retailers by offering a comprehensive perennial assortment, while supporting the respective breeding efforts of Danziger and Syngenta and also opening the opportunity for more breeders and suppliers to join the ThinkPlants family of products. Already, Kapiteyn BV, a Dutch calla lily supplier, and Unex, a bareroot perennial and bulb supplier, have signed on. Brokers and growers should have an easier time creating and booking their perennial programs as a result.
It goes beyond perennials, too. Shortly after the ThinkPlants initiative was announced, Syngenta Flowers and Beekenkamp Plants revealed they would combine their poinsettia portfolios to offer full-range, one-stop shop of innovative poinsettia genetics for brokers and growers to fulfill their customers’ diverse requirements.
Collaboration is also a big corporate workplace trend. Ball-owned companies Darwin Perennials and Kieft Seeds are working together to provide growers with programmable perennials to make them easier to produce and sell year-round.
In late July, Syngenta Flowers acquired Floranova, a respected flower and home garden vegetable seeds breeder with customers in more than 50 countries. Floranova’s genetics will complement Syngenta’s, and fill some important gaps, and they’ll be more accessible to growers and consumers.
Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij, two Dutch flower breeding companies in the Royal Hilverda Group, most recently announced they will merge to become one company to pool their knowledge and resources, and focus on automation, and innovative cultivation and breeding techniques.
Breeders working together will benefit their customers, but I believe it will also increase their ability to compete in the current marketplace. Bringing more visibility and improved distribution to their genetics and the services they can offer, while also highlighting their willingness to cooperate with companies that might even be considered competitors, shows they are truly interested in the good of the industry. And to me, that’s the best message anyone can send.