We continue with Episode 11 of the Microgreens World series “Starting a Microgreens Business: What You Need to Know.” If you missed Episodes 1-10, explore them here: “Microgreens Business.”
Starting jPure Farms in 2018 with my friend Steven was an adventure filled with excitement and challenges. In the basement of his house, we embarked on our microgreens journey, filled with hope and determination. But we quickly realized that growing these delicate greens was only half the battle. The complexity lay in figuring out how to package and deliver your microgreens to customers, ensuring they arrived in peak condition.
How to package and deliver your microgreens involves selecting sustainable materials that meet specific strength, size, and quantity requirements. Special techniques such as compostable packaging, insulated boxes, and temperature-controlled delivery systems are essential. Understanding sales channel requirements and considering factors like senescence and shelf life are often overlooked but vital for ensuring peak conditions upon arrival.
I remember the first batch we sent out; the packaging needed to be corrected, and the greens arrived wilted and unappealing. It was a hard lesson in the importance of proper techniques and materials. But we learned, adapted, and grew. We discovered the delicate balance of strength, size, and sustainability in packaging, the nuances of temperature-controlled delivery, and the specific requirements of different sales channels.
From those early days, jPure Farms thrived, but remembering those early mistakes remains a vivid reminder of the importance of getting it right.
If you’re about to embark on your microgreens business, understanding how to package and deliver your microgreens is not just a detail; it’s a cornerstone of success.
Join me as we explore this intricate process, and I’ll share the insights we’ve gained.
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Understanding Microgreens Packaging Needs
Special Techniques for Delivering Microgreens in Peak Condition
Designing Your Microgreens Packaging
Microgreens Packaging Based on Sales Channel
Microgreens Packing and Shipping Methods
Building Relationships with Microgreens Buyers
Evaluating Microgreens Costs and Profit Margins
Leveraging Technology for Packaging and Delivery
Key Takeaways: Mastering the Art of Packaging and Delivering Microgreens
Share the Knowledge
References and Resources
PACKAGING & DELIVERING YOUR MICROGREENS
When it comes to packaging microgreens, your choices can significantly impact your product’s freshness, appearance, and sustainability. Let’s explore the various aspects of packaging that you must consider for your new or existing microgreens business.
Types of Microgreens Packaging
Microgreens can be packaged in a range of ways, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:
|Clamshells||These clear plastic containers are popular for their visibility and protection. They keep the greens secure and allow customers to see the product. However, there may be more eco-friendly options.|
|Bags||Often used for bulk sales, bags can be made from plastic or compostable materials. They are lightweight but may provide a different level of protection than clamshells.|
|Trays||Trays with a clear lid can be an excellent choice for displaying microgreens at farmers’ markets. They can be made from recyclable materials but might require more storage space. Check out these trays. They are built tough… four times the thickness of regular 1020 trays.|
Materials and Sustainability
In today’s environmentally conscious market, the choice of packaging material matters:
|Eco-friendly Options||Consider using compostable or biodegradable packaging to appeal to eco-conscious consumers. Materials like PLA (polylactic acid) are compostable from renewable resources like cornstarch.|
|Recyclable Materials||If using plastic, ensure it is recyclable and clearly labeled to encourage responsible disposal. Check out these 100% recyclable and biodegradable alternatives to wasteful plastic clamshells while boasting sleek and professionally cut designs. Available at True Leaf.|
The proper packaging must meet specific criteria to ensure it serves its purpose effectively:
|Strength||Packaging must be sturdy enough to protect the delicate microgreens during transport and handling.|
|Size||Choose the appropriate size that fits the quantity you’re selling without excess waste. Consider offering different sizes for various market segments.|
|Quantity Considerations||Think about how many units you’ll need and the cost implications. Bulk purchasing may offer cost savings.|
Understanding your packaging needs is a crucial first step in delivering fresh and appealing microgreens to your customers. Think about the type of packaging best suited to your product, the materials that align with your brand’s sustainability goals, and the specifications that ensure optimal presentation and protection. Thoughtfully selecting your packaging will set the stage for success in your microgreens business.
Delivering microgreens in peak condition requires meticulous attention to detail and implementing specialized techniques. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your microgreens reach your customers as fresh and vibrant as when harvested.
Insulated Boxes and Temperature-Controlled Systems
Microgreens are delicate and can quickly lose their freshness if not handled carefully. To maintain their quality during transport, consider the following:
|Insulated Boxes||Using insulated packaging helps maintain the temperature and humidity levels, preserving the freshness of the microgreens. Available at Amazon, here.|
|Temperature-Controlled Systems||For longer distances or extreme weather conditions, temperature-controlled transport may be necessary. This could include refrigerated vehicles or ice packs within the packaging. See Microgreens Packing and Shipping Methods|
Senescence and Shelf Life
Understanding the natural aging process of microgreens and their shelf life is vital for quality control:
|Senescence||This is the process of aging in plants. For microgreens, senescence can lead to loss of color, flavor, and nutritional value. Proper harvesting, packaging, and storage techniques can slow this process .|
|Shelf Life||Different microgreens have varying shelf lives. For example, radish microgreens may last up to a week. At the same time, more delicate varieties like basil may have a shorter lifespan. Knowing the shelf life of each type helps in planning the harvest, packaging, and delivery schedules. Explore more in the post “How Long Can You Store Microgreens at Home?”|
Some farms use innovative techniques to ensure that microgreens arrive in peak condition:
|Controlled Atmosphere Packaging (CAP)||This method controls the packaging’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to slow senescence . The microgreens are sealed within plastic containers.|
|Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)||Like CAP, MAP adjusts the gas composition within the packaging to extend freshness .|
Maintaining the peak condition of microgreens during transport and storage requires a combination of specialized techniques and a deep understanding of the product’s natural characteristics. By investing in proper insulation, temperature control, and innovative packaging methods, you can ensure that your customers receive the highest quality microgreens, reflecting the care and expertise of your brand.
When it comes to packaging microgreens, the design is not merely about aesthetics; it’s about conveying your brand’s identity and providing essential information to the consumer. Here’s how you can design your packaging with precision:
Branding and Aesthetics
Your packaging is a visual representation of your brand. It’s vital to consider the logo, color scheme, and typography that align with your brand’s values and appeal to your target audience. For instance, if sustainability is a core value, using earthy tones and eco-friendly materials can resonate with like-minded consumers .
Though not always required for microgreens, nutrition labels can add credibility and transparency to your product. Understanding the rules for nutritional labeling is essential. If you choose to include this information, ensure it is accurate and follows the guidelines set by regulatory authorities. Including details like vitamins, minerals, and calorie content can benefit health-conscious consumers .
Information to Include
Beyond nutritional information, other essential details must be part of your packaging. This includes:
|Expiration Date||Microgreens are perishable. Indicating a precise expiration date helps consumers gauge freshness.|
|Storage Instructions||Providing guidelines on how to store the microgreens can prolong their shelf life and maintain quality.|
|Contact Information||Including your business’s contact details fosters trust and provides a channel for feedback or inquiries.|
Designing your packaging is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration of form and function. It’s not just about making the package look appealing; it’s about communicating the correct information and aligning with your brand’s ethos. Engaging a professional designer with experience in food packaging can be a wise investment to ensure that all elements are harmoniously integrated.
Remember, your packaging is often customers’ first physical touchpoint with your product. Make it count by creating a design that looks good and informs and reassures your customers about the quality and care you’ve put into your microgreens.
Microgreens can be sold through various channels, each with unique packaging requirements. Understanding these differences is crucial for presenting your product effectively and meeting the specific needs of each customer segment.
Packaging for farmer’s markets should be visually appealing to attract customers browsing the stalls. Clamshells or transparent bags that showcase the freshness and vibrancy of microgreens are popular choices. Including a label with your farm’s story and the benefits of microgreens can create a personal connection with shoppers.
When shipping directly to consumers, the packaging must ensure that the microgreens arrive in peak condition. Insulated boxes, temperature-controlled systems, and cushioning materials are essential. Consider using compostable or recyclable materials to align with eco-conscious consumers.
Grocery Stores and Retailers
Retail packaging requires a balance between aesthetics and practicality. Clamshells with clear labeling, including nutritional information and expiration dates, are standard. The packaging must also be sturdy enough to withstand handling and stacking on store shelves.
Restaurants and Food Service
For bulk orders to restaurants, packaging must prioritize functionality. Large trays or bags that facilitate easy handling and storage in commercial kitchens are preferred. Including clear labeling with variety, weight, and harvest date ensures chefs have the information they need .
Wholesale and Varieties
Wholesale packaging must be designed for large-scale distribution. Considerations include the ease of handling, stacking, and transport. If offering various microgreens, packaging them in standardized sizes and clearly labeling them helps inventory management.
Packaging microgreens is not a one-size-fits-all task. The choice of packaging materials, design, and labeling must be tailored to the specific sales channel to meet the expectations and requirements of different customers.
Understanding these differences will help you package your products in a way relevant to the target audience as you venture into the microgreens business, whether it’s a farmer’s market shopper, a gourmet chef, or a large retailer.
By aligning your packaging strategy with the sales channel, you enhance the appeal of your microgreens and contribute to a seamless supply chain from farm to fork.
Shipping microgreens, whether within the state or across state lines, requires careful planning and adherence to regulations. Proper packing and shipping methods ensure the product reaches the customer in optimal condition.
Shipping microgreens within the state is generally more straightforward, but it still requires attention to detail:
|Regulations||Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding the transportation of fresh produce.|
|Best Practices||Use insulated packaging and consider the delivery time to keep the microgreens fresh. Local courier services or self-delivery might be viable options.|
Shipping Across State Lines
Interstate shipping can be more complex due to varying regulations and longer transit times:
|Interstate Commerce Rules||Consult with the USDA and relevant state agencies to understand specific requirements for shipping fresh produce across state lines.|
|Packaging||Utilize temperature-controlled shipping methods and ensure that the packaging meets interstate standards. This guide from LSU’s Agriculture Center has a quick table with a great rundown of the best temperatures for each produce type .|
Most states, with the notable exception of California and Hawaii, do allow unrestricted fresh produce shipping to the state. All wholesale/manufactured food establishments that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human consumption in the United States must register with the FDA as a food facility.
If these items conform to USDA regulations, they’re OK to ship. You can ship via the United States Postal Service. According to Publication 52 – Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, fresh fruits and vegetables are nonmailable unless presented in a dry (not dried) condition .
However, to protect the Nation’s plant and natural resources from harmful plant pests, diseases, and noxious weeds, USDA has the authority to prohibit or restrict the interstate movement of certain plants and plant products, including fruits and vegetables.
Preparation and Techniques:
A step-by-step guide to packing and shipping microgreens might include the following:
|1.||Select Appropriate Containers||Use insulated boxes that are strong enough to protect the contents.|
|2.||Temperature Control||Include ice packs or other cooling methods if necessary.|
|3||Secure the Product||Use cushioning materials to prevent movement during transit.|
|4.||Label Clearly||Include all necessary information, such as the address, contact details, and special handling instructions.|
|5.||Choose the Right Carrier||Select a shipping provider experienced in handling perishable goods.|
|6.||Track the Shipment||Provide tracking information to the customer and monitor the shipment to promptly address any delays or issues.|
Packaging and shipping microgreens is a process that involves various factors, such as legal requirements, packaging materials, and temperature control of the product, in addition to transport providers.
Understanding these factors will ensure your products reach customers as efficiently when shipping microgreens. Whether shipping locally or across state lines, a well-thought-out packing and shipping strategy will contribute to customer satisfaction and the success of your microgreens business.
In the microgreens business, building and maintaining relationships with buyers is paramount. It starts by understanding what they are looking for and their preferences, then continuously seeking feedback to improve their experience.
Communication and Customization
|Understanding Needs||Engage with buyers to understand their requirements, such as preferred packaging, delivery schedules, or particular microgreens varieties.|
|Customization||Offer tailored solutions that cater to individual buyer needs. For example, providing specialized restaurant packaging or creating unique microgreen blends for specific retailers.|
|Clear Communication||Maintain open and transparent communication channels. Regular updates on availability, new products, or any changes in delivery schedules can foster trust and reliability.|
Feedback and Improvement
|Seeking Feedback||Regularly solicit feedback from buyers on the quality of the microgreens, packaging, delivery, and overall experience. This can be done through surveys, direct conversations, or feedback forms.|
|Analyzing Feedback||To analyze the feedback and to determine where improvements or possible new products are needed in line with buyers’ needs.|
|Implementing Changes||Act on the feedback by making necessary product, packaging, or delivery method adjustments. Communicate these changes to the buyers to show responsiveness and commitment to their satisfaction.|
|Building Loyalty||Consistent attention to buyer needs and a willingness to adapt and improve can lead to long-term relationships and loyalty. Offering loyalty programs or discounts for regular buyers might also strengthen these relationships.|
Building relationships with microgreens buyers is about creating a partnership where both parties understand and value each other’s needs and preferences.
As you embark on your microgreens venture, remember that communication, customization, and a commitment to continuous improvement will be vital to building lasting and profitable relationships with your buyers.
Packaging and delivery are integral parts of the microgreens business, and understanding the financial aspects of these processes is essential for profitability. Here’s a detailed look at how to evaluate costs and set appropriate profit margins:
|Packaging Materials||Assess the costs of different packaging materials, including eco-friendly options, clamshells, bags, trays, etc. Consider the cost per unit and bulk purchasing discounts.|
|Delivery Expenses||Calculate the costs associated with delivery, including fuel, vehicle maintenance, and potential outsourcing to delivery services.|
|Labor Costs||Factor in the time and labor required for packaging and shipping, including wages if hiring staff.|
|Regulatory Compliance||Account for any costs related to compliance with in-state and interstate shipping regulations.|
|Markup Calculation||Determine an appropriate markup for packaging and delivery costs to ensure a reasonable profit margin. This markup can vary based on the sales channel, such as wholesale, retail, or direct-to-consumer.|
|Competitive Analysis||Research competitors’ pricing strategies for packaging and delivery to ensure your pricing is competitive yet profitable.|
|Sustainability Considerations||If using sustainable packaging, consider whether you can command a premium price or if it aligns with your brand’s values without affecting the profit margin.|
|Ongoing Evaluation||Regularly review and adjust the pricing strategy based on cost fluctuations, market trends, and buyer feedback.|
Evaluating costs and setting profit margins for packaging and delivery in the microgreens business requires a comprehensive understanding of various factors.
As you develop your pricing strategy, consider the direct costs, the competitive landscape, and your brand’s positioning. Regular monitoring and adjustment of this strategy will ensure that you maintain profitability while meeting the needs and expectations of your buyers.
In the modern microgreens business, leveraging technology can significantly enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction in the packaging and delivery process. Here’s how:
|Packaging Automation||Automated packaging machines can streamline the packaging process, ensuring uniformity and reducing labor costs. Machines designed for eco-friendly packaging can align with sustainability goals.|
|Shipping Automation||Automated shipping solutions can generate shipping labels, track packages, and manage inventory, reducing manual errors and saving time.|
|Customer Tracking Tools||Providing customers with real-time tracking information enhances transparency and builds trust. Integrating tracking tools into your website or app can offer a seamless experience.|
|Performance Monitoring||Utilizing software to monitor the performance of packaging and delivery processes can provide insights into areas for improvement. Analyzing data on delivery times, packaging quality, and customer feedback can guide ongoing optimization.|
Leveraging technology in packaging and delivery is not just about efficiency; it’s about enhancing the entire customer experience.
As you embark on your microgreens business, consider investing in automation and tracking tools that align with your business size and goals. These technologies can provide a competitive edge, ensuring you meet customer expectations while managing costs.
The complex process of packaging microgreens requires careful consideration of many factors, such as materials, sustainability, retail channels, regulations, and technology.
A thoughtful and sustainable approach to packaging ensures that microgreens arrive in peak condition, reflecting the quality and care of your product.
Leveraging modern tools and techniques can further enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Many overlook some critical considerations. For instance, the choice of packaging material can significantly impact the freshness of the microgreens. When we first started jPure Farms, we experimented with various materials before finding the perfect balance between sustainability and protection.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of communication with your buyers. Regular updates on delivery status and personalized notes can turn a simple purchase into a memorable experience.
Lastly, always be prepared for unexpected challenges. Whether it’s a sudden change in regulations or a delay in shipping, having a contingency plan can save the day. Trust me, these little details make a big difference!
As you embark on your microgreens business, remember that how you package and deliver your product is an extension of your brand and values. Embrace innovation, prioritize sustainability, and always strive for excellence.
Your customers are going to notice, and your company’s going to prosper.
Get the Book That Will Help You Build A Commercial Microgreens Business
Scaling your Microgreens Startup: How To Go From Windowsill Gardner to Indoor Farmer in 12 Months or Less is the roadmap to small business success.
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Some additional questions microgreens entrepreneurs may have about packaging and delivery. The answers address common concerns and provide guidance on best practices for packaging and delivering microgreens.
What materials are best for packaging microgreens?
Standard options are reusable plastic clamshells or compostable materials like cardboard. Key considerations are cost, ability to prevent damage, and environmental sustainability.
How are microgreens packaged for retail sale?
For retail consumer sales, microgreens are packaged in clear plastic clamshells or compostable boxes that showcase freshness while preventing crushing. Absorbent pads can help manage moisture.
What type of packaging is suitable for microgreens?
Options include clamshells, bags, trays, and containers. The right size and type of packaging depend on the quantity and size of your microgreens. Eco-friendly and compostable packaging options are also available.
How much microgreens should be put in a container?
A general starting point is 2oz of microgreens in a 16-fluidounce (1 pint) container. The exact amount can vary, but it’s essential to put the right amount of product into the container, not too much or too little.
How do you ship microgreens?
Microgreens can be shipped using insulated packaging and ice packs. By doing this, you ensure high quality during delivery. Regulations may vary across state lines, so it’s essential to understand the specific rules in your location.
Can you ship microgreens overnight?
Microgreens can be packaged and shipped overnight to customers using insulated containers with ice packs to maintain optimal temperatures. Avoiding delays and temperature fluctuations ensures quality.
Can you ship microgreens across state lines?
Shipping microgreens across state lines may be prohibited depending on your location and regulations, notably California, Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii. It’s crucial to research and comply with local laws and regulations.
Do microgreens require special handling?
Microgreens are delicate – minimize vibration, compression, moisture buildup, and temperature swings during packaging and transit to prevent deterioration. Handle gently.
How long do microgreens last after harvest?
Shelf life depends on the variety and storage conditions. Proper refrigeration and packaging can extend viability to 7-14 days for most microgreens. Time and temperature control is essential. Read the post “How Long Can You Store Microgreens at Home?”
How to store microgreens for longer shelf life?
Proper packaging and storage are vital for extending the shelf life of microgreens. Insulated packaging helps protect them from extreme temperature changes during transit, and the right container size ensures optimal freshness.
You’ve just unlocked the secrets to packaging and delivering your microgreens for success!
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- Discover more business tips in the post, “13 Solutions to Mastering the Challenges of Your Microgreens Business Journey.”
- For a wealth of knowledge, read the post “Harnessing Technology for a Greener Future: A Guide for Microgreens Entrepreneurs.”
- Discover how to grow microgreens. Read this post, “Beyond the Windowsill: Growing Microgreens on Your Balcony or Patio.“
- Interested in nutrition and health? “The Beginner’s Nutritional Guide to Incredible Microgreens” to explore more about microgreens.
These references include professional guides, community discussions, and expert insights providing a well-rounded perspective on packaging and microgreens delivery.
- Dennis, Shelby. “Packaging Microgreens like a Professional.” HerbSpeak, 10 Oct. 2022, https://herbspeak.com/packaging-microgreens/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Details on packaging microgreens for restaurants and grocery stores, including container sizes.
- “Shipping Wheatgrass & Microgreens | 800wheatgrass.com.” Www.800wheatgrass.com, 29 Aug. 2018, www.800wheatgrass.com/shipping-wheatgrass-microgreens/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Information on shipping fresh wheatgrass & microgreens using insulated packaging and ice packs to ensure quality on arrival.
- Lafreniere, Alex. “Packaging for Microgreens – Giant Sourcing Guide with Tons of Options.” Plant Hardware, 1 May 2020, https://planthardware.com/microgreen-packaging/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. A comprehensive guide on packaging for microgreens, including stacking, sizing, and delivery considerations.
- “Can You Ship Microgreens?” Master Microgreens, 28 Feb. 2023, https://mastermicrogreens.com/can-you-ship-microgreens/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Information on the standard and cost-effective ways to ship microgreens, including USPS Priority Mail or Parcel Select ground services.
- MistyXmasbuds. Shipping Microgreens? 10 Apr. 2020, www.reddit.com/r/microgreens/comments/fya5sk/shipping_microgreens/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Reddit Microgreens Community discusses the challenges of shipping microgreens, including potential restrictions across state lines.
- Microgreens Hub. “How to Package Microgreens?” Microgreens Hub, 10 June 2023, https://microgreenshub.info/how-to-package-microgreens/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Guide on choosing the right size and type of packaging for microgreens and using cushioning material.
- “Packaging MICROGREENS (Farm Income Forum at Permies).” Permies.com, https://permies.com/mobile/t/31473/Packaging-MICROGREENS. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Permies Forum discussion on storing microgreens in glass containers and washing practices.
- “How to Store Microgreens: Wholesale Microgreens Packaging.” Www.bluecart.com, www.bluecart.com/blog/microgreens-packaging-ideas. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Information on using insulated packaging for shipping microgreens to protect them from temperature changes.
- “Shipping Microgreens – Livestream Q&a [Listen In].” Www.youtube.com, https://youtube.com/watch?v=sQCnQvlwsm8. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. A video discussing shipping microgreens for business purposes.
- “Microgreens for Beginners | How Do You Ship Your Microgreens.” Www.facebook.com, https://facebook.com/groups/microgreensforbeginners/posts/2059253254254609/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2023. Facebook Microgreens for Beginners Group community discussion on shipping microgreens.
- Kou, Liping, et al. “Pre-Harvest Calcium Application Increases Biomass and Delays Senescence of Broccoli Microgreens.” Postharvest Biology and Technology, vol. 87, Jan. 2014, pp. 70–78, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2013.08.004. Accessed 10 Apr. 2020.
- Delian, Elena, et al. INSIGHTS into MICROGREENS PHYSIOLOGY. https://horticulturejournal.usamv.ro/pdf/2015/art69.pdf
- Yeargin, Thomas A., et al. “Consumer Practices and Perceptions Regarding the Purchasing and Handling of Microgreens in the United States.” Food Control, vol. 145, Mar. 2023, p. 109470, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2022.109470. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.
- Song, Tingyu, et al. “Recent Advances in Bio-Based Smart Active Packaging Materials.” Foods, vol. 11, no. 15, 26 July 2022, p. 2228, https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11152228.
15. Transportation of Fresh Produce: Best Practices To Ensure On-farm Food Safety. LSU Ag Center. https://lsu.edu/agriculture/plant/extension/hcpl-publications/2_Pub.3442-TransportationofFreshProduce-BestPracticestoEnsureOn-FarmFoodSafety.pdf