Key Takeaway: Starting a microgreens business is a very profitable venture. According to stats, the global microgreens market size was valued at USD 2.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2021 to 2028.
If you’re just hearing about microgreens for the first time, then your question may be “what are microgreens” “is microgreens a good business?” and “how can I make money from starting a microgreens seeds business?”
Microgreens are a type of edible greens that are harvested at a very early stage of growth, usually within 7-14 days of germination. They are different from sprouts, which are harvested at an even earlier stage and are eaten whole, including the roots. Microgreens are harvested with the stem and leaves.
Due to their health benefits and versatility, the demand for microgreens has been steadily increasing in recent years. Many entrepreneurs and business owners are starting their own microgreens businesses to capitalize on this growing market.
Did you know that with as little as $500, you can start a microgreens business? In this article, we will explore how to start a microgreens business.
How to Start a Microgreens Business: Getting Started
Starting a microgreens business can be a fulfilling and profitable venture. Microgreens are young vegetable plants that are harvested just after the first leaves appear, and they have gained popularity in recent years due to their high nutrient content and versatility in cooking.
The market for microgreens is growing rapidly, driven by consumer interest in health and wellness, produce wholesale, sustainable eCommerce food production, food safety, and unique culinary experiences. If there was ever a time to start a micro greens business, it would be now!
Here are some key steps to help you get started:
Developing a Microgreens Business Plan
Writing a business plan will help you define your business goals, identify your target niche market, and create a roadmap for your business. You can include information such as the types of microgreens you will grow, your pricing strategy, your eCommerce marketing plan, and your projected financials.
Developing a business plan is a crucial step in starting a successful microgreens business.
Here are some key components to include in your plan:
- Executive Summary:
- Include a brief overview of the business plan here
- Add the description of your microgreens business, including your business name and products
- Explain your company mission statement
- Market Analysis:
- Give an overview of the microgreens industry and market trends
- Who is your target market? This is the perfect section to describe your customer demographics
- Include your SWOT and competitor analysis
- Explain the market demand for microgreens in your area
- Products and Services:
- Make a list of all microgreens varieties you plan to grow and sell
- Include all potential product lines (e.g. pre-packaged microgreens, seed packets, cross-selling, upselling, and produce subscription box opportunities)
- Discuss your USP, value proposition (e.g. unique flavors, high quality, locally grown)
- Sales and Marketing Strategy:
- Highlight your sales channels (e.g. direct-to-consumer, wholesale to restaurants, farmers markets)
- Explain your eCommerce and omnichannel marketing tactics (e.g. social media, eCommerce email marketing, in-person events)
- Detail your pricing strategy
- Discuss about your wholesale distribution and food distribution channels
- Operations Plan:
- Make a description of the growing process, including equipment and supplies needed
- Draw a growing timeline and harvest schedule
- Explain your staffing needs
- Discuss the quality control measures to be put in place
- Financial Projections:
- Mention your sales forecasts and revenue projections
- Add your break-even analysis
- Include your start-up costs and ongoing expenses
- Explain your funding sources (e.g. loans, investors)
- Risk management and Contingency Plans:
- Highlight potential risks and challenges
- Include your plans for mitigating and managing risk (e.g. diversifying product lines, adjusting pricing strategies)
- Explain your contingency and risk management plans for unforeseen circumstances (e.g. natural disasters, supply chain management disruptions)
Conducting Market Research
Market research will help you understand the demand for microgreens in your area and the competition you will face. You can survey potential customers, attend farmers markets, and research online to get a sense of the market.
Here are some steps you can follow to conduct market research for a microgreens business:
- Define your target market: Start by identifying the customers who would be most interested in buying your microgreens. This could include health-conscious individuals, foodies, chefs, restaurants, and local grocery stores.
- Analyze the competition: Look at other microgreens businesses in your area or online and analyze their offerings, pricing, wholesale marketing strategies, and target audience. Identify gaps in the market that you can fill and areas where you can differentiate your business.
- Conduct surveys and focus groups: To gather more specific insights about your target market, consider conducting surveys or focus groups. This will help you understand what customers are looking for in terms of product offerings, pricing, and quality.
- Determine pricing: Based on your research, determine what price points are reasonable for your microgreens. Consider the cost of production, eCommerce packaging, shipping and handling, as well as the prices of similar products in the market.
- Test your product: Before launching your business, test your product with potential customers to get feedback on taste, quality, and packaging. This will help you make any necessary adjustments before going to market.
Identifying Target Customers
Identifying your target customers will help you tailor your marketing and sales strategies to their specific needs. Consider targeting restaurant businesses, farmers markets, grocery stores, and health-conscious individuals.
Here are some potential target customers to consider:
- Restaurant Businesses: Many restaurants are interested in using fresh, locally grown microgreens to enhance the flavor and visual appeal of their dishes. Consider reaching out to local restaurants and offering to supply them with a regular delivery of microgreens.
- Farmers Markets: Farmers markets can be a great place to sell your microgreens directly to consumers. Look for markets in your area and apply to become a vendor. You may also want to consider partnering with other vendors at the market to create bundles or specialty products.
- Grocery Stores: Local grocery stores may be interested in carrying your microgreens as a specialty item. Reach out to store managers and pitch your product, highlighting its freshness and nutritional value.
- Health-conscious Individuals: Many people who are interested in healthy eating and plant-based diets are also interested in microgreens. Consider targeting this audience through social media advertising, community events, and marketplace online.
- Chefs and Catering Businesses: Chefs at catering companies, different types of catering event venues, and hotels may also be interested in using your microgreens to enhance their dishes. Reach out to local chefs and offer to provide them with samples of your product.
Setting up a Growing Area
Microgreens can be grown in a relatively small space, making them a great option for home-based businesses. You will need a growing area that receives adequate light and is easy to control for temperature and humidity. As a tip, start with simple growing setups like trays, racks, or shelves.
Here are some additional steps to help you set up a growing area for microgreens:
- Choose a growing medium: Microgreens can be grown in soil or using hydroponic systems. Choose a growing medium that is free from contaminants and provides good drainage. Common growing mediums for microgreens include coco coir, peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.
- Select your seeds: Choose high-quality seeds that are specifically designed for microgreen production. You can purchase these from seed and fresh produce companies or online produce wholesalers. Popular microgreen varieties include radish, broccoli, sunflower, and pea shoots.
- Determine lighting requirements: Microgreens require adequate light to grow, so choose a growing area that receives plenty of natural light or invest in grow lights. LED grow lights are a popular option because they are energy-efficient and provide full-spectrum light.
- Control temperature and humidity: Microgreens grow best in temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) and humidity levels between 50-60%. Depending on your climate, you may need to invest in heating or cooling systems to maintain optimal growing conditions.
- Set up your growing area: Once you have everything you need, set up your growing area. You can use trays, racks, or shelves to hold your growing medium and seeds. Make sure to leave enough space between trays to allow for air circulation.
- Plant your seeds: Follow the instructions on your seed packet to plant your seeds at the right depth and spacing. Water your seeds thoroughly and cover them with a humidity dome or plastic wrap until they germinate.
- Monitor and harvest your microgreens: Check your microgreens daily and water them as needed. Once they reach the desired size, harvest them using clean scissors or a sharp knife. Rinse them thoroughly and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to sell or use them.
Sourcing Seeds and Supplies
You will need to purchase high-quality seeds and wholesale produce supplies such as growing medium, trays, and lighting. Consider purchasing from reputable suppliers and choose organic and non-GMO seeds if possible.
Here are some tips for purchasing seeds and supplies:
- Research suppliers: Look for reputable wholesale produce suppliers that specialize in microgreens seeds and gardening supplies. Read reviews on wholesale directories and ask for recommendations from experienced gardeners.
- Choose organic and non-GMO seeds: Organic seeds are grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and non-GMO seeds are not genetically modified. Choosing these types of seeds can help ensure that your plants are healthy and safe to consume.
- Check seed quality: Look for microgreens seeds that are plump, firm, and free from cracks or blemishes. Check the seed packet for information about the germination rate, which indicates how many seeds are likely to sprout.
- Consider your growing conditions: Choose seeds that are well-suited to your growing conditions, such as the amount of sunlight and temperature. Some plants require more light or warmth than others, so make sure to choose seeds that match your growing environment.
- Purchase high-quality supplies: Choose high-quality supplies such as growing medium, trays, and lighting. Look for products that are designed specifically for indoor gardening and are durable and easy to use.
Growing and Harvesting Microgreens
Once you have your growing area set up and your supplies ready, you can start growing your microgreens. Follow best practices for planting, watering, and harvesting to ensure high-quality and consistent yields. You can also experiment with different varieties to expand your product offerings.
Here are some best practices to follow for planting, watering, and harvesting your microgreens:
- Planting: Fill your growing trays with a high-quality growing medium, such as soilless potting mix or coconut coir. Sprinkle your seeds evenly over the surface, making sure not to overcrowd the tray. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of the growing medium and mist with water. Cover the tray with a lid or plastic wrap to create a humid environment.
- Watering: Water your microgreens regularly, keeping the growing medium moist but not waterlogged. Use a spray bottle or watering can with a fine nozzle to avoid disturbing the delicate roots of the microgreens. Be sure to water the microgreens from the bottom of the tray to avoid getting water on the leaves, which can increase the risk of disease.
- Harvesting: Microgreens are ready to harvest when they have developed their first set of true leaves. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the microgreens just above the soil level. Rinse the microgreens in cool water and gently pat dry with a clean towel. Store the microgreens in a plastic container or bag in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
- Experiment with different varieties: Microgreens come in a wide variety of flavors, colors, and textures. Experiment with different types of seeds, such as radish, arugula, and pea shoots, to expand your product offerings and add variety to your dishes.
Marketing and Selling your Microgreens
Marketing and selling your microgreens can involve attending farmers markets, selling to local restaurants and grocery stores, or setting up an online store. You can also leverage social media to promote your business and connect with potential customers.
Here are some ways to market and sell your microgreens:
- Attend farmers markets: Farmers markets are a great way to connect with local customers and sell your microgreens. Set up an attractive display and offer samples to entice customers to try your products.
- Sell to local restaurants and grocery stores: Reach out to local restaurants and grocery stores to see if they are interested in purchasing your microgreens. Offer a competitive price and high-quality products to build a long-term vendor-customer relationship.
- Set up an online store: Setting up an online store on an eCommerce marketplace like BlueCart, or creating your own eCommerce website design can help you reach a wider audience and sell your microgreens directly to customers. Use high-quality photos and detailed product descriptions to showcase your products and attract customers.
- Leverage social commerce: Use social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to promote your business and connect with potential customers. Share photos and videos of your microgreens, offer promotions, and engage with your followers to build a loyal customer base.
- Offer subscription box products/services: Consider offering a subscription commerce service where customers can receive regular deliveries of your microgreens. This can help you build a stable customer base, increase customer retention, improve customer lifetime value, and ensure consistent revenue.
- Cross-selling and upselling: Consider offering complementary products, such as herbs or salad greens, to cross-sell and upsell your microgreens. This can increase the value of each sale and encourage customers to purchase more from you.
- Omnichannel marketing: Use a combination of online and offline marketing channels to reach your target audience. This can include attending farmers markets, selling to local restaurants and grocery stores, setting up an online store, and leveraging social media.
- Branding: Develop a strong brand identity for your microgreens business, including a logo, tagline, and packaging. This can help differentiate your products from competitors and make them more memorable for customers.
- eCommerce customer service: Provide excellent customer service to build loyalty and attract repeat business. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and complaints, and go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Wholesale Microgreens Business
How Do I Get Started With a Wholesale Microgreens Business?
To get started with a wholesale microgreens business, you will need to research your local market, source high-quality seeds and supplies, and set up a growing area. You will also need to develop a business plan, including pricing, distribution, and wholesale food distribution strategies.
What are the Benefits of Growing Microgreens?
Growing microgreens is a low-cost and low-risk way to start a business, as they require minimal space, equipment, and investment. They are also highly nutritious and can be grown year-round, making them a popular and in-demand product.
How Do I Price My Microgreens?
Pricing your microgreens will depend on a variety of factors, including your costs of production, competition, and local market demand. Research what other growers in your area are charging and adjust your prices accordingly.
How Do I Distribute My Microgreens?
You can distribute your microgreens to local restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, or set up an online store to reach customers directly. Develop relationships with potential customers and create a distribution plan that fits your business goals and resources.
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need to Grow Microgreens?
To grow microgreens, you will need the following equipment:
- Growing medium
- Greenhouse or growing room
- Irrigation system
What Kind of Permits or Licenses Do I Need to Start a Wholesale Microgreens Business?
The permits and wholesale licenses required to start a wholesale microgreens business will vary depending on your location and business structure. Contact your local government agencies and business development centers to learn more about the requirements in your area.