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North America: Benary+ off to a flying start
Gundula Wagner of Benary at the CAST 2017, presenting their new seed packets with QR-Code.
Closer to the grower
In the USA, growers are usually supplied by brokers. The breeder breeds its varieties, the broker chooses a selection of these varieties and supplies them to the growers. This is being done for years and that is considered to be the standard. Benary+, however, is the first breeding company that decided to deviate from this standard as they are now supplying their growers directly. So what was the reason for establishing this joint venture?
Matthias Mart, Benary's Manager Sales and Marketing Norht America: "The main reason was we wanted to be closer to our growers. This new business model makes transactions more direct and efficient, increases the value for our grower customers, and allows them the unique opportunity to order products fresh from the source. This gives us the opportunity to provide our customers with longer term availability information and involve them much deeper in the early parts of the supply chain. Also, we can work more closely with growers to invest in breeding lines that meet the demands of our ever changing market."
During the Trials, they created a Benary+ lounge
Together with Volmary, Benary created the new joint venture. But why Volmary? According to Mart, it combines the strengths of both companies. "Volmary, is a family owned company who, like Benary, has built their reputation on superior genetics, outstanding customer service and reliable supply. Volmary roots and ships thousands of plug trays of their cuttings each week so they understand, first hand, what is important for a successful production of vegetative varieties."
The Benary seeds are shipped directly from DeKalb (IL), where they are using their new QR code packages that give the grower all the up to date information they require, including test results that are younger than the day of purchase. The cuttings, however, are shipped directly from Kenya. "The cutting farm in Kenya is up and running for over 20 years and has served the European market with first class cuttings. Over the past two years, we have invested a lot of time, money and effort to establish a flawless cooled supply chain into the US, so that there are zero compromises on quality."
Reactions at California Spring Trials
Benary and Volmary purposely announced their joint venture right before the California Spring Trials. "This event is much more relaxed than other trade shows, so you have as much time as you need to sit down and talk to your customers. People asked a lot of questions, and we enjoyed having all the time we needed to answer them and look for opportunities for the future." Overall Mart is pleased with the reactions. "The reactions have been mostly very positive. Many people thought this was an obvious progression of the market. They were not surprised at all and embrace this as the natural development of our industry. The growers were the most excited. They know and trust our seed products, and now they are excited at the opportunity to try our vegetative products."
During the Spring Trials visitors could fly over the farm to the coastline with a helicopter. The slogan of their new Benary+ joint venture is: More Beauty. More choices. More smiles.
Challenge to brokers
Benary used to supply their growers solely through brokers. Now, however, they sell their products direct too, which was quite a shock for several brokers. "Initially, they might have thought of Benary+ as a competitor, but the more they engage in our new system, the more they hopefully see that Benary+ creates just as many new opportunities as it presents challenges to the traditional distribution model."
Mart clearly points out that Benary+ is not 'a broker'. "We will only sell our seeds and our URC’s. There are no other vendors involved. We also are the first breeder to offer growers a completely unfiltered and focused line of communication. This gives them the chance to be much deeper involved in the early stages of the supply chain and the development of new genetics."
He understands that selling directly to the growers will be a challenge to the brokers, but he has seen that most brokers are now getting more aware about their own value proposition to growers. At the CAST, most brokers were very professional and constructive and some have even brought new ideas on how to work with Benary.
The first Benary+ orders are in, which is quite exciting. "Up to the time of the announcement we had never invoiced a grower for any product. Now we are in the process of shipping and invoicing the first Benary+ orders."
A view on The Ernst Benary of America location out of the helicopter.
Future breeding and distribution industry
Benary and Volmary are the first breeders in the USA that will supply their growers directly through Benary. Will this joint venture change the current breeding and distribution industry in North America? According to Mart, it is hard to predict. "I am not sure how much we can say in this regard. Every company has to evaluate their own business on many fronts and evaluate their present situation, as well as look into their future. But we can observe two things. First of all, it requires a specific set up to be able to sell directly to growers, and not many breeders have the prerequisites to execute such a step successfully. On the other hand, we did get a lot of calls from other breeding companies about why and how we did this. So, time will tell. We only know, that we think this is the right step to bring our genetics most effectively to the grower."
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