Oregon Grape Marketing
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Jennifer
Posted on: August 9, 1998

I have a major stand of oregon grape. I would like to harvest and sell root. Do you buy wholesale? If not, do you know who I could contact?

This native shrub is found in woods in rich soil among rocks from Nebraska to the Pacific Ocean, but is especially abundant in Oregon and northern California. It is also prolific in Washington and British Columbia. Other species grow in almost every region of North America. All are marketable, but only the B. aquifolium is good money as a foraged crop. All other species are smaller and more effort for the weight.

Oregon Grape Root was probably the very first thing I sold when I first entered the herb trade back in 1970. I later discovered that it is a chemical analog to Golden Seal Root, often being used as an adulterant for Golden Seal Root, since their chemistries are quite similar. Both contain the alkaloids berberine and hydrastine. While Golden Seal has more of the later, Oregon Grape Root has about 75% the total chemical activity on the liver.

Current uses include tableting and capitulating this root for use in cleaning the urine of drug residues. With the advent of spot drug testing within the workplace (especially in Europe), the demand for an herbal cleanser has increased. Because Golden Seal is now in severe shortage, the market for Oregon Grape Root has increased to more than 100X previous requests.

I now have one market alone which would like to purchase 10,000 lbs. per month for overseas export, and have been seeking a reliable source of supply. I also need to find 12,000 lbs. right now for a current market need. Can you help me? Current prices range from $1.40/lb. from Canadian suppliers, to more than $1.80/lb. in the U.S. from local and regional harvesters. As a broker, I would charge 10 percent of total sales in handling all purchase orders, invoicing, export documentation, and collections.

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