Editor's note: Each November, we present the findings of our exclusive State of the Industry research. Find out how growers fared this year in our November print issue, or go to our State of the Industry section of our website.
First, let's take a look at sales and profits. Sales gains outweighed the losses for those who responded to our survey this year, but the profit improvements didn’t fare as well.
More than a quarter (35%) of those surveyed anticipated a 1-9% increase in gross sales this year compared with last year. Some 17% predict no change in sales, while almost 16% expect gross sales to be 10-19% higher this year.
Almost 66% expect sales to improve in 2019 versus this year.
“To stay profitable, you have to control costs, not just by raising prices every year," says Mark Sellew, president, Prides Corner Farms, Lebanon, Conn. "You have to raise prices a little, but you can’t raise prices to profitability.”
It was disappointing to learn that 30% of responders did not see a change in profits this year over last year, but more than a quarter saw an increase of 1-9%. Unfortunately, almost 16% experienced a decrease in profits ranging from 1-9%.
"The market has not been as good in 2018 as we had hoped," says Richard May of Havana, Fla.'s May Nursery. "That being said, our sales are up low single-digit percentages. The downside is that our expenses are up double-digit percentages, and we don’t see any way to improve that."
For growers in many regions, the weather created additional difficulties.
“It was an erratic year because of the weather, especially the bizarre summer rains, which made a lot of our trees in the field jump past 2 and 2 ½-inch caliper," says Darryl Newman, principal at Planters' Choice Nursery in Newtown, Conn. "But our business forecasts are good and expenses are down. The overall P&L is doing fine.”
Make sure you’re tracking all of your costs so you can adjust your prices accordingly and watch those profits go up.