Changes in both retail and consumer footprints are forcing a change of approach in plant breeders. This is largely being driven by a change of influence amongst the consumer. For example, are they aware of Genetics in plants?
The changing face of retail for both plants and green products worldwide is not only impacting on consumers and their levels of expertise but also on the types of products carried. In what is now a market of fast moving consumer goods, the expectations of the retail merchant and consumer are rising. The market for fast moving consumer 'perishables' may soon include garden plants.
Homogenisation of products
The closest simile of what we are seeing in Ornamental Horticulture is what we see with fruit and vegetables in grocery. Just look at how this sector is moving towards changed expectations on presentation, continuity of supply (even outside normal seasonal availability) and homogenisation of product offers.
This obviously influences the breeding processes where shelf life, transportation and economies of scale and scope in shipping, all play into the selection process. Contrary to Ornamental Horticulture, the drivers in FMCG isn’t about continued new introductions but is more about offering more attractive forms of product choice.
This can be related to what Plant Management specialists Anthony Tesselaar have done with their Fairy Magnolia and Daphne Perfume Princess. Improvements in breeding have resulted in a more versatile plant for the consumer that can now grow in both sun or shade, container or garden and perform with a minimum of care (or required expertise) for the end user.
Testing for drought tolerance following record temperatures in Europe this year has now become a critical exercise for the breeder sector who must adapt to climate change. Quicker growing plants with more blooms for the instant garden will be paramount in the future.