OCEANSIDE, N.Y. — King Kullen's fourth Wild By Nature store, located here, features a prototype floral department that spotlights VeriFlora-certified cut flowers and underscores a commitment to educating customers about sustainability.
“This newest Wild By Nature features the type of floral department that we'll create in other stores as we go forward,” said Ted Johnson, chair of the newly launched VeriFlora Sustainability Council and president of FreshBlooms, a division of Delaware Valley Floral Group.
“It's a pilot program we've developed with them. Almost all the flowers there are certified,” Johnson told SN.
“We'll do more this summer at that store. Banners, a lot of point-of-purchase materials and labeling, and there will be tags and brochures.”
VSC members also will conduct seminars for the floral staff in order to get them well versed in what sustainability certification means.
Johnson explained that a group of members of the Veri-Flora Sustainability Council, which was launched last month, met to discuss what the market needs. Then they came up with a template of what a VeriFlora flower shop should look like, and King Kullen officials agreed to try it in their newest Wild By Nature store.
“The VeriFlora program is a good complement to our Wild By Nature store support of organic and sustainable agriculture,” said Joe Forte, president of Wild By Nature and vice president, perishables, at King Kullen Grocery Co., Westbury, N.Y.
The not-for-profit council was formed to give retailers and others in the industry a central go-to place for information on sustainable floriculture and related topics.
“We have this wide range of information we can bring to the table, because we've been through these processes and have schooled ourselves,” Johnson said.
“We think we can work with mass-market retailers to show them how going green with VeriFlora, and differentiating themselves in the market, can help give them market recognition and build their sales.”
Interest in both VeriFlora certification, and in sustainability issues more broadly, has grown immensely throughout the industry over the past three years, Johnson said. Growers' interest is evidenced by the fact that 30% of Delaware Valley's cut flowers are now VeriFlora-certified, compared with about 10% three years ago.
Meanwhile, as more growers get on board, more variety is available and more retailers are interested, Johnson said.
“We've been working with Wakefern,” he noted. “I did a two-day seminar there about VeriFlora and other programs.”
Retailers pay 1% to 5% more for certified flowers, Johnson added.