If you’re only growing enough microgreens to meet a single family’s needs, it’s not necessary to figure out how to market a crop. But if you’re looking to start growing microgreens, it’s time to explore how and where to sell the product from your microgreens business.
Every Market Is a Little Different
While there are some general rules of thumb when growing microgreens for profit, it’s important to understand that local markets vary, which means microgreens business owners must carefully evaluate their local areas to determine the most profitable microgreens to sell.
It’s possible to ship microgreens to remote areas of the country to meet the needs of other regions, but that adds a layer of complexity many growers don’t feel comfortable dealing with. The issue remains the same: The microgreens need to get into the hands of customers.
Researching the most profitable microgreens to market is a step growers must take before deciding which varieties to grow. Being able to deliver products to customers quickly means the microgreens will always be fresh and of the highest quality. That’s why important to understand local market conditions.
Explore Your Options
When deciding which varieties to grow, the microgreens farmer needs to find out what varieties are in demand. That means visiting local farmer’s markets, food co-ops, grocers and restaurants to see what is available and what is in demand.
Don’t be afraid to ask current sellers questions about their products and how buyers select microgreens to take home. Grocers and co-ops are always looking for product sources and may be interested in discussing how they choose vendors, their expectations for product quantities and qualities, and if their market varies from season to season.
Remember that the varieties available in co-ops and grocery stores have likely been shipped some distance and are not as fresh as most shoppers want. That means you may have an opportunity to fill a need if you can deliver what the stores want and need in a timely manner.
Farmer’s markets are a little different because it’s where you’re likely to find your most serious competition. In most areas, however, microgreens are underrepresented in local farmer’s markets because the sellers tend to focus on other crops. Take the time to visit local farmer’s markets to see what’s being marketed and how competitors’ pricing structure fits into your business plan.
Finding a Niche
Once you’ve determined what microgreens are currently selling in your area, it’s time to find your own comfort zone. Are you going to grow the same products other growers offer or would it be more profitable to grow another variety?
Again, it’s important to know your competition. If, for example, the only microgreens being sold in your area are grown a thousand miles away and being shipped in, you may have more flexibility than if other local growers are already supplying specific varieties.
Before a final decision, make a few more inquiries. Local restaurants frequently prefer to buy micro greens directly from local suppliers when possible. If area restaurants express an interest in buying specific varieties of microgreens, you should consider growing those varieties. Microgreens farming must be kept as simple as possible to generate the most profit.
Discover the Most Popular Microgreens
When you embark on a new business venture, choose a few products to focus on rather than attempting to grow every type of microgreen you’ve ever heard about. Here are a few examples of microgreens you may want to consider growing.
- Garden cress is widely used in soups, salads and sandwiches. This is one of the varieties restaurant owners may want to obtain to add color and flavor to their offerings.
- Basil is another wonderful example of a commonly used herb. Just about every pasta dish includes basil, and it’s a common ingredient in a variety of salads. Again, restaurant owners may interested in basil, but cooks of all sorts value the taste of fresh basil in their foods.
- Chives are another type of microgreen that shoppers are always looking for. At early growth stages, chives offer a gentle touch of taste that’s lost when the plants reach maturity.
- Beet microgreens are in demand when a splash of color is needed to liven up a dish. They’re commonly used as a garnish in addition to being a great salad ingredient.
There are other varieties a microgreens farmer can consider if there is a local demand for the product. It’s important to remember that you can always add or subtract varieties from your growing plan, so don’t be afraid to try new varieties if it appears there is a demand.
Try Different Marketing Strategies
While selling directly to restaurants, co-ops and grocers will generate profits for growers, explore other marketing options when they’re available. The time of year and where you live will make some venues more realistic than others. Here are a couple of ideas to consider when exploring ways to market your micro-greens.
- Word-of-mouth sales can easily add to anyone’s income. If you’re willing to have customers visit your home, it’s often possible to sell a lot of product without having to travel. This is a great way for parents with young children to make money while also avoiding having to pay for day care.
- Roadside stands are often considered to be out of style, but many small roadside stands across the county generate significant profits for owners. Urban locations may restrict this type of marketing, but less-populated areas are generally more accepting of a new roadside stand. Check with local authorities to determine if zoning or permit issues need to be dealt with.
- Growers’ co-ops offer another way to move product. In some instances, buyers need larger quantities of some products than a single microgreens farmer can produce. If that’s the case, consider partnering with other local growers to produce what a larger buyer wants. Working with other producers may also provide more bargaining power, which means a boost to your bottom line.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to market your microgreens using more than one strategy. Things can happen in one market segment that would cause an abrupt halt in business. If you’re diversified, a drop in demand from one segment will be easier to handle.
Take Advantage of Current Trends
Marketers fail when they don’t take advantage of societal changes. If, for example, you only produce one type of microgreen and the demand for that variety disappears in your area, the results could be devastating. Instead of failing because of changing trends, stay up-to-date with how people choose their foods and adapt to those changes.
Microgreens contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and other essential elements everyone depends on to stay healthy. Health experts commonly recommend everyone eat greater quantities of foods containing high levels of nutrients for their health, but the types of plants recommended always change.
If you follow the latest research and diet trends, it’s easy to see what’s coming so you can be prepared for changes. In some cases, that means growing different microgreens.
Being proactive in marketing is also a good idea. Instead waiting for demand to increase, take the time to do a little creative marketing of up-and-coming products yourself. It might be possible to beat your competition to the marketplace with high-demand microgreens.
One of the costs involved in marketing microgreens is packaging. While a restaurant may be willing to purchase microgreens packed in simple plastic bags, grocers may want something a little more sophisticated. The costs associated with different types of packaging will affect your profits, so take care when selecting and using various types of packaging.
Another aspect associated with packaging is the environmental impact of packing materials. For example, grocers generally prefer microgreens to be packed in clamshells or blister packs, but both options are usually made of plastics. Using those packing materials is often a sore spot with growers committed to conserving the environment.
Some clamshells and blister packs are now marketed as being biodegradable. Compare the costs of different options before deciding. Paper-based packing materials are also available, but many of those leave the microgreens subject to damage during handling.
The type of packing materials must meet the requirements of each marketing venue. Simple trays or bags may work well if you’re selling products at a farmer’s market or roadside stand. People coming to your home to buy products directly may be satisfied with simple types of packing materials.
Evaluate your markets thoroughly before deciding which packaging to use. The choice will affect not only the cost of the product but also your image. If your goal is to project an image of a conservationist, choose your packing materials accordingly.
Evaluate Health Risks
While the objective of businesses is to select and grow the most profitable microgreens, there are other issues to consider. Spreading disease is possible when food products are handled incorrectly. Rather than risking spreading any type of disease, evaluate the way you’re growing and handling the microgreens to ensure all health risks are minimized.
Local health officials commonly offer advice for ways to mitigate potential health issues, and many experts provide health-related advice during seminars and classes. In most cases, basic sanitation steps are enough to minimize health risks.
If you’re selling microgreens to a retailer, their employees will also be handling the products. That means your reputation is at risk if an employee handles your products improperly. That’s one of the many reasons packaging is important, because clamshells limit the contact with the microgreens before they’re consumed.
Make Your Dream Happen!
Yes, there are risks and issues associated with microgreens farming, but no business is free of risks. And not many income-generating opportunities offer the type of flexibility microgreens farmers enjoy.
Like any other business, it’s important to do whatever it takes to get started and generate the type of income you need. With help from advisors, it’s not difficult to learn what works and what doesn’t work when growing microgreens.
Whether your goal is to generate a little income on the side or create a long-term career, growing microgreens can be the answer you’re looking for. Because the business can be started on a small scale and expand as your reputation grows, there isn’t a lot of financial risk involved.
Most people new to the microgreens business begin with a minimal investment and allow the proceeds from their crops to finance future growth. With the proper advice and market research, your dreams of independence can become a reality.
The time to get started is today. Don’t wait. There are people who want to purchase microgreens now. If you’re committed to growing crops that take little space and have the potential to generate significant profits, start taking the steps necessary to learn how to grow and sell microgreens.