Market for Echinacea Angustifolia (Purple Cone Flower) Roots
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Thomas J. Nordwick
Posted: Before April 1998

Do you know of a market in which to sell Echinacea angustifolia (Purple Cone Flower) roots?

Echinacea roots are very much in demand, especially those of Echinacea angustifolia, the narrowleaf purple coneflower. We regularly get calls from companies looking for large lots, one tonne or more. One large producer of organic bulk echinacea roots and leaves is forward-contracting two years in advance; i.e., he is already selling from his crop two years in the future.

Because another species of echinacea, E. pallida, the pale-purple coneflower, is often confused with E. angustifolia, buyers will demand some sort of analysis to prove the identity of your product. Some may require flowering specimens, but most will require a High Performance Liquid Chromatogram (HPLC) of a sample of your roots if the lots involved are large.

The bulk herb market consists of many levels. The prices and volumes you can expect differ widely at each level. For instance, your local health food store or herbalist may be interested in a small lot of dried roots, perhaps 5 kilograms (10 lbs) in size. A distributor of dried herbs, one who supplies the health food stores and herbalists, might be interested in larger lots, 100 kilograms and up. Some of the larger manufacturers and brokers won’t talk to you unless you are producing 1000 kgs or more. The price naturally drops a lot as you go up the chain, and the technical and marketing cost associated with making the sale go up accordingly. It helps if you have some distinguishing feature to offer such as certified organic production or fresh roots needed by tincture manufacturers.

Expect to invest significant amounts of time marketing your product. There is no one single place where you can simply show up with your product and expect to make a sale. In this respect the industry is very different from most traditional farming sectors. The commercial herb growing industry is very much about building relationships with buyers who trust your product.

There are significant changes underway at all levels of the industry. The rapid entrance of pharmaceutical firms into the manufacture and distribution of retail herbal products has had a large impact on the economics of herbs such as echinacea. We predict a gradual narrowing of the supply, where smaller suppliers will be squeezed out by larger and more efficient operations doing business successfully with the large pharmaceutical companies. This likely will occur over the next ten years but the trends are already evident.

Echinacea has such wide acceptance by the general public in North America and Europe that it will enjoy continued growth in market size for several years to come.

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