Before you decide whether a microgreen business is right for you, you’ll have to consider a few key factors. To build the most profitable microgreen business, you’ll have to juggle time, space, advertising and more.
In this article we will break down some of the things you should think about as you plan your microgreen empire. Let’s grow!
What do I need to start my Microgreen business?
Unlike other ventures, the things you’ll need for setting up a microgreen business are cheap, and easy to source.
Like all plants, microgreens require just a few simple things to grow, sunlight, space, and something to spread their roots into. Simply head to your local hardware store and pick up trays, potting mix and seeds and you have the makings of a fledgling microgreen business! To get the most bang for your buck, always remember to buy in bulk.
What is the most profitable Microgreen to sell?
There are many different types of microgreens, and the most profitable one will depend greatly on the demand, the season, the production costs, and other factors.
Not all microgreens are created equal, so you’ll have to do some research to determine which is the most suitable for you. Fast growing varieties such as radish, arugula and kale can be ready to harvest in as little as 5 days, providing you with a quick turnaround on your investment.
On the other hand, amaranth, cilantro, or other herb-like microgreens become harvestable after 11 to 25 days but can fetch a higher price at market. Once you factor in expenses, the profit per pound for most microgreens falls in the range of $20 – $35.
Who can I sell Microgreens to?
When it comes to selling your prized crops, the sky’s the limit. Think restaurants, small independent health food stores and even local markets.
Now for the most important part: turning your hard work (mostly consisting of staring at your crops every day, willing them to grow faster) into cold hard cash.
Restaurants are the target market most people think of when selling microgreens, but why stop there? By getting your greens into health food stores, markets or even starting your own online store, you can expand your reach to an increasingly more health-conscious public.
What does it cost to start my Microgreen business?
The great thing about a microgreen business is the low startup costs. A few seeds, trays, and potting mix are about all you’ll need to get started, so even $100 goes a long way. And hey, sunlight is free!
Besides the obvious costs such as seeds and soil, there are some “hidden” costs you might want to consider as you start to expand. Think water, electricity for indoor light-based farms, packaging for your product, labor costs and more.
As you scale up, you can improve your efficiency by bulk buying materials, and even installing automatic watering systems to reduce labor expenses.
How long does it take to start a Microgreen business?
Most microgreens are relatively fast growing, so you can be up and running in a matter of weeks.
Most microgreens are harvestable in around 7 to 14 days, allowing you to start raking in the cash much faster than is possible with conventional crops. You might find that the limiting factor isn’t the microgreens themselves, but rather how quickly you can find customers. The best way to do that is to get out there with a smile and start networking!
How can I grow my Microgreen business?
As with any business, advertising is key. Since microgreens are perishable, going local might be your best option.
So, you’ve grown the most amazing little nuggets of gold. That’s great, but you’ll need to get the word out if you want to see major “growth”. Excuse the pun.
Start by door knocking at local restaurants and grocers, using word of mouth to get your first few sales. You may face rejection, but at least it doesn’t cost you anything! As you ramp up production, consider starting a website and target ads to your local area.
A well marketed product often can be sold at a premium to the right customer base. According to the International Food Information Council’s Food & Health Survey, in 2021 54% of all consumers care more about their food choices compared to 2020. To capitalize on this trend, register your operation with the USDA to be able to use the “Organic” label.
How much space do I need for a Microgreen business?
To get started, you don’t need much more than a few sunny windowsills. As you grow, consider investing in a greenhouse to boost your production.
Most microgreens are grown in small trays, usually 10 x 20 inches that usually produce roughly 8 – 10 oz per harvest. With a fast-growing crop two of these trays could make you a pound per week. That’s $20. $20 is a nice start, but clearly, you’re going to need a lot more space if you want to become a full-time microgreen farmer.
If you have the garden space, a greenhouse is a great investment for your budding microgreen venture.
Do I need a permit to start a Microgreen business?
Depending on how much you earn from your business, you may be subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The FDA outlines that any operation making more than $25000 annually is subject to the FSMA, which is a set of rules that ensure your produce is fit for human consumption.
You may require a permit depending on who you sell to. For example, in the state of California you don’t need a permit to sell to restaurants, grocery stores, or in your backyard.
However, if you want to sell at the farmer’s market, you’ll need to apply for a Certified Producer Certificate. The best way to ensure you’re following the law is to contact your local Agriculture Ombudsman to see which permits apply to your individual situation.