Microgreens are certainly one of the easiest plants to grow and one of the most cost-effective businesses to invest in, especially if you want to do business on a small scale. But, on contrary to the growers, the eaters have noted that some microgreens are priced higher than mature vegetables.
If you are one of them then you might also be wondering why are microgreens so expensive?
Microgreens are a premium-quality product, which means they are only demanded by only few vegetable eaters. Microgreens are not as mainstream as fruits and vegetables, but their nutritional value is the highest when compared with veggies and fruits available in the market. This high-nutrition aspect is the biggest influencer of their higher prices.
Also, microgreens were brought to the general public’s attention only a few decades ago, when they were endorsed by celebrity chefs as a garnishing element for their high-end dishes. All of these qualities make microgreen a product that has high nutrition, is a niche-demand product and food that is backed with recommendations by famous chefs. In this article, we will also discuss the production costs that go into growing microgreens along with other factors that influence their prices.
Why Are Microgreens So Expensive? (From Growers Perspective)
Growing microgreens is not a big investment, to be honest, and most of them are one-time investments. Some costs like seeds and soil are recurring costs, however, if you buy them in bulk from Amazon or True Leaf Market you will save quite a few bucks more. If you are growing microgreens commercially then you will need special equipment, customized lighting setup and a sanitized room/basement to grow your microgreens.
More than production costs it’s the meticulous preparations in creating a healthy environment for the microgreens to grow that takes a lot of effort and is a critical factor for growers to determine the cost at which they sell their microgreens for. Since microgreens are harvested at a very young age, they tend to be sensitive to mold and pathogens. If your greens are infected with pathogens or the soil has mold growth in it then that whole batch is ruined.
If you are still wondering why are microgreens so expensive, then these are the reasons. The meticulous attention that goes into simulating a productive environment for growing a healthy batch of microgreens is what influences the rate of the microgreens.
Below is a table that will give you a brief idea of the production costs involved in growing microgreens. For the sake of simplicity, we are assuming that we will be growing only one tray of microgreens. The figures in the table are approximate.
|1 10inx20in Growing Tray
(Assuming tray will be used at least 50 times)
|1oz of microgreens seeds
(Price varies if bought in bulk)
|8 5inx5in Hemp Growing Mats
|1 LED Grow Light
(Assuming 50,000 hrs of battery life)
|Utilities (electricity and water)
|Heating Mat for Faster Germination [optional]
(Assuming 2,000 hrs of life)
|1oz of Hydrogen Peroxide
(to Sterilize the Growing Tray)
There are some hacks that growers can utilize to lower their production costs. For an instance, you can buy microgreens seeds in bulk rather than recurring purchases. However, if you are buying them in bulk you must take some precautions while storing them.
On average, a single 10inX20in growing tray can give you a yield of 8-12 ounces of microgreens. So, your majority of profits will come from the subsequent batches and not the initial ones, as most of the above equipment are a one-time expense. You can reuse these materials in your further batches and mitigate your production costs significantly. However, if you are growing in bulk then your profits will start rolling in as early as possible.
While growing, you can utilize natural sunlight instead of indoor growing lights to grow your microgreens, however, in some countries where weather is unpredictable this trick might not be worth implementing. You can also save some bucks by using affordable growing mats.
If you want to start your microgreens business and wish to know what are the most profitable microgreens and how much do they sell for then we have a detailed article for you that will give you all the information you need on that topic. If you are not a commercial grower and grow microgreens just for yourself then do read this article where we have discussed how you can grow microgreens in coconut shells!
Why Are Microgreens So Expensive? (From Eaters Perspective)
Do you know that some microgreens go for $40/pound?
In comparison, a pound of spinach microgreens is priced at approximately $26 while spinach itself, in its mature form, is priced at $6 (approx.).
Now that we know why producers charge higher for their microgreens let us understand other factors that have played a moderate to minor part in determining the market price of these cotyledon plants.
Microgreens, even among vegetarians, is not as popular as vegetables or fruits and thus the consumer base for them is quite low.
Since the demand base is so low, this tells that a large portion of consumers are either not aware of microgreens or they are just not interested in splurging on them. This factor makes microgreens a premium-demand product, a product that is bought by only those consumers who are aware of their nutritional benefits.
Unconventional Compared to Traditional Vegetables and Fruits
As we had mentioned before that microgreens are fairly new to the consumer market in comparison to mature vegetables and fruits as they were only introduced to the common public a few decades ago.
Initially, microgreens were only used by high-end restaurants in garnishing their premium dishes and for a major period that was their only purpose of existence. Nowadays, as the internet is reaching every corner of the world, people are getting to know about microgreens and their nutritional values and also about how to grow them.
So, we can say that currently microgreens are at the introduction stage in the consumer market and as their popularity soars and more people get to know about their nutritional benefits, they will gain mainstream popularity just like fruits and vegetables.
Many studies have confirmed that microgreens have 5-40 times more nutritional value than their mature versions.
Many people might find it hard to believe but this is a FACT!
Since many fruits and mature vegetables have mainstream popularity, most people are already aware, at least in bits, of their nutrients and health benefits. And, you must have noticed in the markets that vegetables and fruits which have higher compositions of fiber, minerals, vitamins and proteins are costlier than the veggies and fruits that have fewer nutrients or low calories.
So why are microgreens so expensive?
The main reason behind the high price of microgreens is their sheer nutritional value. They have high amounts of proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, and many other helpful minerals.
If you consume 1 cup of radish or cilantro microgreens, you will get 40 times of the vital nutrients that you’ll get from their mature versions.
According to a study published on the American Chemical Society, red cabbage microgreens possess 260 times higher beta carotene in comparison to their mature version?
We bet you did not!
The simple fact of having higher nutrients than the mature veggies makes it suitable for growers and sellers to charge higher for their microgreens. In combination with a low number of growers and low demand, the prices of microgreens are high for a reason.
We have mentioned this point above that since microgreens are not a mainstream food, not even for vegetarians, they are only demanded by a handful of customers, making their adoption rate lower than vegetables and fruits. This is why you have difficulty finding them even in big supermarkets.
But, according to Allied Market Research’s report global microgreens market is expected to reach $2,000 million by 2028 and the industry is growing at a fantastic CAGR of 11.1%. So, once more and more people get to know about the health benefits of microgreens and their nutritional values, we can say that their demand will also rise. This will do two things:
- An increase in their demand will lower their prices.
- You will start finding them in local supermarkets and discount supermarkets as well.
But until that happens, you will have to pay a premium price for those nutritional greens and face a little difficulty when you want to buy them.
So, what did we discuss in this article? Just to summarize.
- You can buy in small quantities: You can buy veggies and fruits in large quantities but you don’t buy microgreens in similar quantities, you can buy them in ounces or grams rather than pounds or kilos. You get a lot of nutrients even from a handful of microgreens, so you don’t need to consume them in larger quantities like you consume fruits and vegetables.
If you are a parent then you certainly might face problems while feeding vegetables and fruits to your kids. Here, microgreens can be your go-to option, as you can sprinkle those greens on a sandwich or mix them in a salad. You kids will get multiple times the nutritional value from small quantities of microgreens than they will from large quantities of veggies.
- Higher nutritional value for money: Why do you buy vegetables and fruits? For their nutritional composition, right? You get vitamin, potassium, calcium, fiber, proteins and whatnot from them but, only to illustrate, if you are paying $5 for 50gms of Vitamin C then paying $10 for 250gms of Vitamin C is not a bad idea.
Once you understand this fundamental, you will never wonder why are microgreens so expensive!
- Luxury appeal: Microgreens were first introduced to the general public as a garnishing ingredient used by celebrity chefs in their high-end dishes. So, they have kind of an intrinsic luxurious appeal which makes them a premium product.
Some people don’t just use microgreens for garnishing anymore they also use them in making protein shakes and smoothies. Microgreens are surely, although slowly, becoming one of the mainstream ingredients rather than just a simple top-it-off-with garnishing ingredient.
Hope you had fun reading this article where we discussed why are microgreens so expensive. Do tell us in the comments if we missed something.