Valerian Root Marketing
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Dimiter Stefanov
Posted on: July 22, 1998

We are growing valerian and looking for market for the dry roots for the medicine producers. We expect a yield of about 500-600 tons of dry roots.

Valerian is easy to grow around the Great Lakes of both Canada and the U.S. Competition and price have limited domestic production until recently, with the break-up of Soviet Bloc Countries. Now, competitive pricing has a potential chance, except for the imports from India. It is subsidized from there, making some larger sales difficult.

I noted that you called your markets "medicinal producers," which might want to be revisited. In the "drug" industry, products are either sold as pharmaceuticals (known chemistries and action), or as medicinals (alleged use). Common valerian contains as its primary active constituents several iridoid compounds called valepotriates. Most act like smooth muscle relaxes, and are used to make the common drug valium.

In other words, there are very large markets for this crop. The variety from India also contains valepotriates in the herbaceous part of the plant, making it often the preferred purchase by larger pharmaceutical houses. A list of buyers can be found in the OPD Chemical Buyers Directory, the annual directory for the biweekly tabloid "Chemical Marketing Reporter." You might even find occasional articles in that tabloid discussing market trends for this crop.

Your main library should carry both this tabloid and directory in their reference section for your review. Other marketing resources and their addresses are listed in my book The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop (under Bulk Marketing). I am also available to assist in marketing as broker. With the expected yields mentioned, you may need some help getting into this industry.

It is recommend that you obtain a "Certificate of Analysis" (or C/A) on the chemistry. This is a sales tool, often required by most pharmaceutical houses. These cost money, usually as much as $300 for chemistry on a letterhead. There are many laboratories available for this work, but many of them (from my point of view) are not reliable and a waste of money.

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