P.E.I.'s Veseys Seeds featured on more than 10 million boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios

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Seeds given away in Cheerios promotion may be problematic, horticulturist says

P.E.I.'s Veseys Seeds will be featured on more than 10 million Honey Nut Cheerios boxes across North America, thanks to a promotion to encourage people to plant wildflowers and bring awareness to the importance of bees as pollinators.

While Bring Back the Bees is back for a second year in Canada, it has also expanded into the United States, with Veseys Seeds partnering with General Mills both north and south of the border.

"It was huge last year," said John Barrett, director of marketing, sales and development at Veseys.

"I think probably one of their most successful campaigns and certainly very large for us. All of their experts told them that they really needed to do it again and so we were certainly up for the challenge."

In Canada alone, Veseys expects to hand out as many as 700,000 wildflower seed packages in the promotion this year..

Then there's the new foray into the American market.

"They had been watching what took place in Canada last year and we're now involved with them so we're going to be on about 10 million boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and we've already delivered two million packages of seeds to them,"  Barrett said.

Barrett won't say exactly how much business increased for the P.E.I. seed company after last year's campaign other than it was a "healthy increase" in sales. And he's hoping for a similar result for Veseys' U.S. sales. 

'Expecting an increase in sales'

"We're hoping obviously that it gives a boost to our U.S. seed catalogue sales," he said.

"We saw what the reaction was in the Canadian programs so we are geared up to expect an increase in sales in shipping to the U.S."

Barrett thinks there are a number of reasons why Bring Back the Bees has created such a buzz.  Last year, the campaign included a contest, where everyone who entered had a chance to win one of five $5,000 garden makeovers.  

Free wildflowers

This year, there isn't a contest, just the free wildflowers.

"People have come to realize how important bees actually are to world food production," Barrett said. "It's just been the right thing at the right time."

Even before the campaign was officially launched in Canada on Thursday, there had already been requests for close to 40 million seeds.

The page also features direct links to the Veseys home page, catalogue request page and weekly newsletter and already more than 25,000 Canadians have signed up for the newsletter.

'One year at a time'

Barrett isn't sure if Bring Back the Bees will be back for a third year here at home, but he noted General Mills in the U.S. is hoping for the same results as in Canada and a potentially bigger roll-out in year two.

"We're taking it one year at a time right now but we're hopeful to repeat again in the U.S., for sure," said Barrett.

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