I had the pleasure of meeting with 1-800Flowers CEO Jim McCann this week and talk to him about the production and market potential of the California product. I shared with him the consumer research and information we’ve collected on the opportunity that exists for companies like his to feature domestically grown product and its growers as niche´ opportunity for their business model. At this point in our industry’s history, California may not be able to fulfill the entire marketplace’s appetite for all varieties, but we know that consumers would make the choice for California 55% of the time if just given the choice. The “buy local” and “feature the farmer” programs at the retail level are going to continue to be key marketing strategies for companies competing for a tight household budget. Building awareness and educating the consumer on where their product comes from and who grows it will help to pry open that wallet from baby boomers down to Gen Yers.
Jim was gracious and extremely interested in what was coming down the road for California. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to talk about some of the new varieties from the different growing regions, improved transportation planning and quality controls and our new and creative hint card program. I also hope to continue these discussions throughout the next year and building our industry’s relationship with Jim and his staff at 1-800Flowers.