BURPEE REPORTS RECORD SALES FOR FIRST HALF OF 2013 HOME GARDENING SEASON
April 2, 2013-The home gardening industry is enjoying a banner year for 2013, according to the chairman of the nation’s leading home gardening company. Record numbers of new gardeners are seeking to control what they feed their families. These first-time growers are discovering the excellent values of a wide assortment of backyard vegetables and herbs. As a result, Burpee’s sales are running over 20 per cent more than last year’s level. “We haven’t seen this boom since the back-to-the-land movement of the early 70s”, says George Ball, chairman.
“Increasingly we are attracting young married couples who want to control the food they put on their family dining table and are really angry about the high prices being charged at supermarkets,” adds Mr. Ball, who for two decades has helmed the 137-year-old purveyor of seeds and plants sold online, at retail nurseries and through the company’s popular annual catalogues.
“We have expectant and new mothers asking us which varieties they can grow in their gardens to avoid processed baby food”, says Mr. Ball, “and as a result we have started researching relatively bland tasting, soft-fruited vegetables such as peas, squash, carrots and broccoli, in order to improve their nutritional values.”
At the other end of the spectrum, he points out, are aging baby boomers increasing space in their gardens for vegetables containing much needed vitamins and antioxidants. “We call this ‘growing younger’”, he says. “It is part of a new trend towards ‘age-specific’ gardening that has Burpee and other major players in the industry directing new varieties at specific age-groups rather than the entire category of home gardeners.”
Examples of this are ‘Healing Hands’ Lettuce and ‘Wild Mix’ Kale, two new varieties enjoying brisk 2013 sales at Burpee. Both are high in Lutein, which is widely recommended to deter age-related, macular degeneration in senior citizens. “Among our biggest sellers for 2013 is ‘SuperSauce’, a giant roma style tomato very high in Lycopene when used as a sauce,” adds the Burpee chief executive. “Lycopene is widely regarded as the workhorse of antioxidants.”
Mr. Ball, a third generation seedsman and former president of The American Horticultural Society, also credits new varieties that can easily adapt to smaller spaces and patios with fueling much of the 2013 burgeoning sales.
Among these is Burpee’s new ‘On Deck’ Corn, the first in a series of patio vegetables formerly cultivated in large, more traditional rectangular vegetable gardens. “It’s gone from farmers with a lot of acreage to devote to growing vegetables down to mid-20thcentury home owners selecting a plot of ground in their backyard. And now we see suburbanites and city-dwellers putting containers on their patios filled with a wide assortment of vegetables and, for the first time, corn on the cob.” Mr. Ball observes.
All of this, he says, is putting extreme pressure on Burpee and its competitors to introduce new varieties that meet the needs of the consumer. “With 137 uninterrupted years of continuous innovation”, Ball concludes, “we have been able to meet this challenge, and 2013 will be the best year in our history for the sale of vegetables, herb and related garden products.”
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