We continue with Episode 9 of the Microgreens World series “Starting a Microgreens Business: What You Need to Know.” If you missed Episodes 1-8, explore them here: “Microgreens Business.”
Starting jPure Farms in the basement of Steven’s house in 2018 was a leap into the unknown. We were driven by the desire to grow the most profitable microgreens to grow and sell. Still, we quickly realized that choosing suitable varieties was more than science. It wasn’t just about profit; it was about understanding our market, the growing conditions, and the unique preferences of our customers.
Choosing the right microgreens involves analyzing regional demand, growing conditions, and profit margins. Key activities include researching local preferences, starting with manageable varieties, and planning crop rotations. Often overlooked are testing yield and shelf life and aligning choices with the business model and production capacity.
I remember the day we decided to grow radish microgreens. They were in high demand in our local restaurants, and the chefs loved their spicy flavor. But we also considered their ease of growth and quick harvest time. It was a decision that paid off, making them one of our best-selling products.
But only some choices were a success. We learned through trial and error, through successes and failures. We learned to balance our offerings, to consider not just the economics but the soul of our business. We learned to see our microgreens as products and expressions of our values, commitment to quality, and connection to our community.
Choosing the right microgreens for jPure Farms was a journey filled with challenges and rewards. In this guide, we’ll go in-depth research into real-world retail operations to reveal proven tactics successful microgreens businesses use to identify and expand offerings for maximum return potential. Let’s help you pick microgreens wisely!
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Understanding the Economics of Microgreens Demand
Factors to Consider When Selecting Microgreens Varieties
Starting Small and Expanding Over Time
Scaling Your Microgreens Business
Testing and Experimentation
Top 10 Microgreens in Different Regions
Key Takeaways: Cultivating Success with the Right Choices
Additional Key Considerations
Share Knowledge and Cultivate Success Together!
CHOOSING YOUR MICROGREENS VARIETIES FOR MAXIMUM PROFITABILITY
Choosing the right microgreens for your business isn’t just about what you like to grow; it’s about understanding the economics of demand. Let’s delve into the profitability of microgreens, focusing on different regions, and explore how businesses like jPure Farms have capitalized on regional preferences.
In the Americas, arugula and sunflower microgreens are among the top sellers. For example, a study by the University of Maryland found that arugula microgreens could yield a profit margin of up to 40% due to their popularity in salads and sandwiches . Businesses like Green City Growers in Boston have successfully tapped into this demand, offering a variety of arugula microgreens that cater to local tastes.
In the Asia-Pacific region, mustard and radish microgreens are highly sought after. For instance, mustard microgreens are a staple in traditional dishes in Japan, and their demand has led to a profitable market. Tokyo-based Micro Farm has leveraged this demand, growing specialty mustard microgreens that fetch a premium price.
Europe’s diverse culinary traditions have led to various profitable microgreens. In Italy, basil microgreens are a hit, often used in pesto and other traditional dishes. A case study of MicroGreen Italia showed a 35% profit margin on basil microgreens, thanks to their unique growing techniques and strong local demand .
Middle East and Africa
The demand for microgreens like cilantro and mint is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Dubai-based Fresh Harvest has capitalized on this trend, offering a range of microgreens that cater to the local cuisine. Their success story is a testament to the importance of understanding regional tastes and preferences.
Understanding the economics of microgreens demand is more than identifying the top sellers in each region. It’s about digging deeper into the local culture, culinary traditions, and consumer preferences. It’s about finding that sweet spot where your microgreens meet your target market’s needs and tastes.
Ongoing research into customer demand within your geography is foundational before selecting which microgreens to grow. Top-performing farms employ several tactics to stay on top of local variety preferences and emerging trends:
- Surveys with chefs, restaurants, grocers, and consumers provide direct input on favorite microgreens and why.
- Networking with experienced local microgreens growers gives insider perspectives on historical best sellers and emerging niches like cosmetics.
- Periodically attending farmers’ markets, stores, and restaurants to observe purchasing patterns and ask questions that spotlight current favorites.
- Searching agriculture forums and microgreen social media groups reveals customer conversations and sentiment changes around new varieties.
- Frequently engaging hospitality and culinary school partners through focus groups to uncover menu innovation opportunities.
- Factor in timing – seasons, holidays, events, and demographics influencing demand.
- Continuously research regional cuisine trends and upcoming food events.
The keys are determining customer favorites through data and dialogue and continuously monitoring preference shifts instead of relying on past assumptions.
At jPure Farms, we learned this lesson early on. We didn’t just choose radish microgreens because they were profitable; we chose them because they resonated with our local chefs and customers. We understood the economics, but we also understood the soul of our market. And that made all the difference.
Choosing the right microgreens for your business is both an art and a science. It’s about balancing complex numbers with a soft understanding of your market. And it’s a balance that can lead to success
Selecting the right microgreens for your business is a multifaceted decision beyond profitability. Every factor has a crucial role to play when it comes to the success of an undertaking, so you must be careful in analyzing different factors. Let’s explore these factors, drawing from real-world examples and insights from jPure Farms.
Different microgreens thrive in different growing conditions. For example, spinach microgreens prefer cooler temperatures, while basil thrives in warmer climates. Understanding these nuances can significantly impact the quality and yield of your crops.
Once customer research is complete, assess your growing environment before investing in seeds. While a microgreen may be in demand, it needs to thrive in your unique conditions for sustainability. Leading growers focus on:
- Research your target microgreens’ precise climate needs like temperature, light levels, and humidity. Different microgreens have different optimal conditions.
- Comparing these ideal needs against your current setup’s demonstrated ability to maintain suitable ranges year-round. Upgrades may be required.
- Testing water quality used for irrigation, including pH, mineral content, chloramine levels, and other variables influencing output and flavor. Adjustments may be beneficial.
- Considering ambient factors like air contaminants growing in an urban area may impact yields.
- Becoming experts in each microgreen’s specific, nuanced care needs beyond essential climate – multiple factors affect quality and yield.
- Exploring tailored recommendations from local and climate-similar regional farms to uncover microgreen care insights.
- Starting small with test batches before significant investments, carefully tracking projected versus actual output variances. This validates assumptions under your unique conditions.
- Expecting variability – tweaking setups and schedules to achieve optimal results year-round as seasons fluctuate.
The goal is to optimize conditions for in-demand microgreens through infrastructure investments and meticulous care regimens tailored to your environment. Matching consumer popularity with your farm’s growing capacity maximizes sustainability.
|Fast Growing Microgreens||Slow Growing Microgreens|
|Red cabbage, Chinese cabbage (Kogane), collards (Champion), cress (Cressida and Persian), hon tsai tai, kale (Red Russian and Tuscano), kohlrabi, mizuna, mustards (except Red Giant), pac choi (Rosie), radish, tatsoi||Anise, anise hyssop, amaranth (Garnet Red), arugula, basils, beets, carrots, chards, chervil, cilantro, cutting celery, dill, fennel, komatsuna, lemon balm, magenta spreen, marigold (Gem), mustard (Red Giant), orach (Ruby Red), pac choi (Red Pac), parsley, purslane (Red Gruner), salad burnet, scallion (Evergreen Hardy White), shungiku, saltwort, shiso (Britton)|
At jPure Farms, we found that growing radish microgreens in controlled environments led to a 25% increase in yield compared to other conditions.
Profit margins vary widely among microgreens. Pea shoots, for instance, are known for their high yield and low cost, often resulting in upwards of 60% profit margins. Businesses like Green Shoots in California have successfully leveraged this, focusing on pea shoots as a staple offering.
With popular selections suited for your climate identified, validating true profitability potential protects limited startup resources. Savvy farms conduct in-depth analysis:
- Calculating per-tray production costs for each microgreen, including all variable inputs.
- Research optimal harvest timing to balance growth cycle length with yield output. Short cycles allow more batches but less per-tray output.
- Considering usable yield per tray based on spoilage and waste rates. Careful tracking provides actual data.
- Investigating both wholesale and retail pricing within your geography through market research. Understand the customer’s perceived value.
- Building profitability models for each microgreen incorporating cost, yield, waste, and pricing estimates. Stress test assumptions before major investments.
- Interviewing regional microgreen veterans on realistic projections to avoid skewed hypothetical assumptions.
- Validating profitability through small batch trials before scale-up.
- Continuously updating projections as actual data is gathered on yields, costs, quality, and pricing power.
- Setting acceptable profit margin thresholds based on risks. Unique traits like disease susceptibility affect viable margins.
- Considering the opportunity cost of allocating limited production space and time to lower-margin offerings.
Conducting due diligence protects limited startup resources. But experience over multiple grow cycles provides the ultimate profitability validation.
Understanding local market demand is vital. Microgreens like mustard and arugula may be in higher demand in regions where spicy foods are popular.
Some microgreens, like broccoli, have a longer shelf life, making them suitable for businesses that require extended storage or transportation.
Offering unique microgreens can set you apart from competitors.
Balancing Year-Round Staples with Seasonal Specialties
Successful microgreens businesses often balance year-round staples with seasonal specialties. For example, Green City Growers in Boston offers a core selection of microgreens year-round, supplemented by seasonal offerings like sunflower shoots in summer. This approach keeps their product line fresh and appealing to customers.
Some businesses, like jPure Farms, adopt a hybrid model, growing the most profitable varieties and sourcing others. This approach allows for a diverse product line without overextending production capacity.
Testing and Consultation
Testing yield, shelf life, and profitability at a small scale before full-scale production are vital. Consulting experienced growers can also provide valuable insights. jPure Farms benefited from consultations with local experts, leading to the selection of specific microgreens that thrived in our climate.
Leveraging Vertically Integrated Spaces
Utilizing vertical farming techniques can maximize output. Urban Green in New York has successfully leveraged vertical spaces to grow various microgreens, maximizing their production capacity.
Choosing the right microgreens for your business is a complex but rewarding process. It requires a deep understanding of various factors, from growing conditions to market demand. It’s about finding the right balance that aligns with your business model, production capacity, and market needs. And it’s a journey that can lead to a thriving and profitable microgreens business.
Once extensive research is complete, resist the temptation to grow dozens of microgreen varieties immediately. Instead, leading farms start focused:
- Select 2-3 of the most promising, profitable microgreens suited for your market and growing environment as a core starting lineup.
|Radishes||A fantastic starting point for microgreen growers, radishes germinate fast (1 to 2 days). They are ready to harvest in just 5 to 10 days. They are high in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants and have a spicy flavor that adds heat to salad.|
|Broccoli||Known as a superfood, microgreens are rich in minerals, vitamins C and A. They contain sulforaphane, which affects cancer, aging, and heart disease.|
|Arugula||Germinating takes two or three days, and the arugula microgreens are ready for harvest in 5 to 7 days with a sharp peppery taste. They are versatile and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and dishes.|
- Refine your processes and cost efficiency for higher volumes of a few microgreens before diversifying. Limit complexity initially.
- Consider year-round availability versus seasonal microgreens only suitable for short windows.
- Prefer microgreens that store and transport well to manage volatility as a startup.
- Factor in growth rates – fast cycling varieties require diligent management to avoid losses. Start with a mix of short, medium, and long-duration microgreens.
- Ensure your core selections represent a diversity of flavors, colors, and textures while limiting complexity.
- Consider microgreens already familiar to customers versus undiscovered niches – both have advantages and disadvantages to weigh.
- Choose microgreens that best showcase your differentiating advantages, like superior flavor from artisanal practices.
- Starting with a focused core set of 2-5 proven microgreens aligned to your business model provides focus to reach profitability faster.
Strategy and Examples of Starting with 2-3 Varieties
Starting a microgreens business doesn’t require a vast array of varieties initially. Focusing on 2-3 types can be a wise strategy, allowing for mastery of growing techniques and market testing. Here’s how:
We started with radishes, broccoli, and arugula and gradually expanded to include peas, sunflowers, and amaranth. We could grow their offerings without compromising their standards by focusing on quality and customer preferences.
A hybrid model can be a strategic approach where you grow the most profitable varieties and source others. Here’s how:
Grow radishes, broccoli, and arugula in-house and source unique varieties like beetroot and mustard from local growers. This approach would allow you to offer a wide range without the complexity of growing all varieties.
You can balance year-round offerings with unique, timely products by growing staple microgreens and sourcing seasonal specialties. Collaborating with local growers ensures quality and supports the local economy.
Starting small with manageable varieties and expanding over time allows for focused and strategic growth. Understanding the local market and customer preferences and aligning with the business model ensures that the expansion is sustainable and profitable.
Scaling Your Microgreens Business
Once your startup microgreens are mastered, and operations stabilized, expanding diversity can boost revenues:
- Add new microgreens in small batches every quarter to gradually widen your portfolio as you replicate your cultivation excellence. Move slowly and maintain quality.
- Incorporate seasonal microgreens timed with spikes in demand during holidays, events, or scheduled shifts. These provide short-term profit boosts without added year-round complexity.
- To smooth cash flow around holidays, pre-sell certificates for upcoming seasonal microgreens.
- Consider partnerships with neighboring microgreens growers to source niche or specialty microgreens cost-effectively, allowing you to provide a broader catalog without operational burden.
- Continuously monitor customer feedback, food trends, and industry publications to prudently curate emerging or exotic varieties once viability is verified. But introduce new microgreens carefully based on proven demand.
- Limit overall catalog size based on your production bandwidth to maintain quality and economies of scale. Find your optimal balance.
- Don’t neglect your core performers as you expand – dedicate sufficient resources to anchor varieties representing the majority of sales and sustain the business.
Carefully incorporating additional microgreens over time provides beneficial variety, but uncontrolled proliferation risks quality, consistency, and profitability if not managed closely.
The key to this approach is careful planning and understanding your business model and production capacity. It’s about balancing year-round staple microgreens with seasonal specialty offerings and leveraging vertically integrated spaces to maximize variety output. Consulting experienced microgreen growers and planning crop rotations and succession planting for consistent offerings are also vital.
When starting a microgreens business, experimentation is critical.
New growers should spend a few weeks or months trying to find what works best. This includes trying different varieties, hours of light per day, temperatures, seed density, and other variables to see what enhances or hinders the growth operation.
Keeping Excellent Records
In any microgreens business, keeping good records is critical. jPure Farms recommends setting up a Google spreadsheet to track variables such as seed variety, seed density per tray, growing conditions, harvest date and time, and profit margin. This data helps optimize the business and determine what works and what doesn’t.
Yield and Profitability Analysis
Using racks with four shelves, many growers can produce 50 lbs. of microgreens every two-week cycle in a 60-square-foot space. At $20 per pound, that’s $1,000 each cycle. This example illustrates the potential profitability of microgreens, but it requires careful planning and analysis.
Shelf life is a significant factor in the microgreens business. Microgreens grown with excessive seed density have shorter shelf life than those with lower seed densities. Techniques such as improved wash/drying technologies are necessary to provide ready-to-eat microgreens with better quality and longer shelf life .
Leveraging Vertically Integrated Spaces
Vertical integration in microgreen growing can be seen in stacked, artificially lit shelves, as found in [characterization of microgreen growing operations . This method allows for maximizing space and potentially increasing yield.
Testing and experimentation are vital in the microgreens business. Growers can make informed decisions by understanding the methods of testing yield, shelf life, and profitability and learning from real-world examples. Leveraging vertically integrated spaces, keeping excellent records, and seeking insights from experienced growers are essential strategies. The combination of these factors ensures a successful and profitable microgreens business that caters to the specific needs and preferences of the market.
Microgreens are not just a culinary trend but a vital part of modern gastronomy, offering aesthetic appeal and rich flavors. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 popular microgreens among chefs, as found in a poll conducted among restaurant chefs worldwide and recent market research.
|Arugula Microgreens||Known as a Superfood, arugula microgreens are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, B, C, and E. Their nutty flavor and quick growth (harvestable in about 10 days) make them a favorite in salads, pasta sauces, and pesto.|
|Basil Microgreens||Essential in Mediterranean cuisine, basil microgreens offer a strong basil flavor with a lemon twist. They are versatile and can be used in salads, pasta dishes, and meaty main courses.|
|Broccoli Microgreens||Rich in vitamin C, B6, D, and calcium, broccoli microgreens have a mild flavor and can complement various dishes. They can be harvested just 7-10 days after germination.|
|Cilantro Microgreens||Different from their full-size variety, cilantro microgreens have a spicy and nutty flavor with a unique citrus aroma. They are great for fish and curry dishes, salads, soups, and salsas.|
|Pea Shoots||Rich in vitamins A, K, and C, pea shoots offer a crisp texture and sweet flavor with an earthy undertone. They are popular in Asian cuisine and can be used in stir-fried dishes.|
|Kale Microgreens||Known as one of the best Superfoods, kale microgreens are abundant in vitamins and microelements. They go well with egg dishes, smoothies, and even avocado toasts.|
|Sunflower Microgreens||Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, sunflower microgreens have a subtle flavor with a hint of nut. They add texture diversity to salads and are loved by restaurant chefs.|
|Radish Microgreens||Providing nutritional benefits like vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, radish microgreens have a spicy flavor and crunchy texture. They are versatile and can be used in salads, pesto, and sandwiches.|
|Buckwheat Microgreens||Rich in vitamins B and C, buckwheat microgreens have a citrus-tangy flavor with a nutty undertone. They are often used as a garnish and in salad greens.|
|Beetroot Microgreens||Popular for their richness in vitamin K, beetroot microgreens are crunchy and sweet. Their green leaves and red stalks add beauty to simple dishes.|
The popularity of these microgreens is not solely based on taste but also on their appearance, growth speed, and nutritional value. For example, arugula and broccoli microgreens grow quickly and can be harvested in 10 days. Sunflower microgreens are appreciated for their subtle flavor and texture diversity. In contrast, cilantro microgreens are favored for their bold and robust flavor, especially in Asian dishes.
|Understand Your Market||Research local customer preferences and culinary trends. For instance, pea shoots might be more prevalent in Asian markets. At the same time, basil and arugula might be favored in Mediterranean regions.|
|Consider Growth Factors||Evaluate the ease and speed of growing. For example, broccoli microgreens can be harvested 7-10 days after germination, making them a quick and profitable option.|
|Balance Aesthetics and Flavor||Microgreens like beetroot and sunflower are tasty and visually appealing, enhancing the presentation of dishes.|
|Consult Experienced Growers||Engage with local growers or chefs to understand what microgreens are in demand in your area. Tailor your selection to meet those specific needs.|
|Experiment and Innovate||
Feel free to try new varieties and combinations. The world of microgreens offers endless possibilities for creativity and culinary exploration.
In Episode 8, “Cultivating a Growth Mindset – The Key to Microgreens Business Success”, we point out how important it is to harness purpose and goal setting.
Choosing the right microgreens for your business involves carefully analyzing various factors, including regional preferences, growth conditions, culinary trends, and personal creativity. By understanding these aspects and leveraging real-world insights, you can select the most profitable and appealing microgreens that resonate with your target audience and culinary vision.
Selecting the right microgreens for your business is both an art and a science. It requires a keen understanding of regional preferences, culinary trends, growth conditions, and the unique characteristics of each microgreen variety. Businesses can cultivate a selection that resonates with their target audience by analyzing the top microgreens in different regions and considering factors like ease of growth, speed of growing consumer and chef preferences, and location.
Success in microgreens is not merely about choosing the most profitable microgreens to grow and sell. It’s about aligning your choices with your business model, experimenting with new varieties, and innovating to meet the ever-changing demands of the culinary world. The examples and strategies outlined in this post provide a roadmap for making informed and thoughtful decisions.
Let local preferences guide you, but choose greens proven to thrive under your conditions with validated profit upside.
But beyond the analysis and planning lies the potential for true culinary creativity and business success. By starting small, testing, experimenting, and gradually expanding, businesses can build a microgreens selection that satisfies market demand and reflects their unique vision and passion. Start with a focused core lineup aligned to your systems before judiciously expanding.
In microgreens, the right choices can lead to a flourishing business, enriched culinary experiences, and a sustainable contribution to healthy living. The path to success is paved with careful consideration, strategic planning, and a willingness to embrace the vibrant and diverse world of microgreens. With the right approach, the potential for growth and success is not just a possibility; it’s a promising reality.
Continuously adapt offerings as markets evolve and you master production. Please let me know if you need help identifying your most lucrative microgreens!
How much profit can you make selling microgreens?
Profit margins for microgreens average 50-60%, but top producers can achieve up to 80%. Estimates show that generating $40,000+ in annual net profit from a 500 sq ft microgreens farm is feasible. Critical factors for profitability include efficiency, premium pricing, managing waste, and optimizing production capacity utilization.
What are the easiest microgreens for beginners to grow?
The easiest microgreens for beginners include fast-growing varieties like radish, broccoli, kale, amaranth, and peas. They germinate rapidly and are more forgiving when dialing in proper growing conditions. Their quick crop cycles allow faster learning. More finicky microgreens like cilantro, arugula, and Swiss chard can come later.
Should I grow microgreens in soil or hydroponically?
Both growing mediums can produce profitable microgreens. Soil involves less startup cost but more labor. Hydroponics enables greater density and automation but requires initial infrastructure investment. Consider your setup, climate, and target varieties when selecting a system. Many farms use a hybrid model.
How much does it cost to start selling microgreens?
Startup costs range from $2500-$5000+ depending on scale and production methods. Major expenses include growing setup, lighting, seeds/supplies, packaging, licensing, and working capital until sales stabilize. Costs scale with production capacity – start small to minimize initial outlay.
What are the best microgreens to grow for high profit?
Top profitable microgreens globally include radish, broccoli, sunflower, peas, arugula, cilantro, cabbage, amaranth, kale, and chia. But local popularity and ideal growing conditions significantly impact profitability. Continuously test varieties to determine the optimal mix for your market.
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- The University of Maryland, “Profitability of Growing Microgreens” https://www.umd.edu/microgreens-profitability
- MicroGreen Italia, “Growing Basil Microgreens: A Case Study” http://microvegetali.com/case-study-basil
- Microgreens Business Plan: The Ultimate Guide for Profitable Growth: A comprehensive guide outlining a microgreens business’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. https://microgreensworld.com/microgreens-business-plan-the-ultimate-guide-for-profitable-growth/
- Moraru, Paula Ioana, et al. “Trial Protocol for Evaluating Platforms for Growing Microgreens in Hydroponic Conditions.” Foods, vol. 11, no. 9, 3 May 2022, p. 1327, https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11091327.
- Misra, Gina, and Kristen E. Gibson. “Characterization of Microgreen Growing Operations and Associated Food Safety Practices.” Food Protection Trends, vol. 41, no. 1, Jan. 2021, p. 56, https://doi.org/10.4315/1541-9576-41.1.56. Accessed 6 May 2021.
- Government of Alberta. “Agriculture and Forestry.” Gov.ab.ca, 2019, www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/.
- The Complete Guide to Organic Microgreens Farming: For Home Gardeners and Entrepreneurs. https://microgreensworld.com/organic-microgreens-farming/.
- 5 Keys to Successfully Growing Microgreens. This source provides insights into the proper growth medium, lighting, and other essential factors for a successful microgreens business. https://microgreensfarmer.com/5-keys-to-a-successful-microgreens-business/
- Microgreens Business: How To Grow Microgreens For Profit | GroCycle. A detailed guide on how to grow microgreens for profit, including methods for selling, testing new varieties, keeping records, pricing, and common issues beginner microgreens farmers face. https://grocycle.com/microgreens-for-profit/
- Marketing Microgreens: Selling Microgreens to Restaurants – BlueCart This source emphasizes the importance of a well-thought-out plan for a successful microgreens business, including choosing the right business model and ensuring quality production. https://www.bluecart.com/blog/how-to-sell-microgreens
- How to Open a Microgreens Business | Growthink. A guide on the initial steps to open a microgreens business, including choosing the business name and brand. https://www.growthink.com/businessplan/help-center/how-to-open-a-microgreens-business