Valerian Root for the North American Market
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: George van Gimst
Posted on: May 22, 1999

We are growing valerian and looking for market in the USA or Canada for the dry roots. We expect a yield of about 250 tons of dry roots. Can you help us or assist us in marketing as a broker?

I have written previously on Valerian Root for this section, and you may want to review those comments with my current response to you. I act primarily as a broker for domestic production in North America, rarely representing crops from Europe. When I do, however, it is always in a trading situation.

Canadian and U.S. farmers have begun to produce significant quantities of Valerian Root for the domestic and world trade. They are very competitive to European production on their own turf. The variety from India also contains valepotriates in the herbaceous part of the plant, making it often the preferred purchase by larger pharmaceutical houses.

I do know MAFCO, a primary buyer, and some of the larger manufacturers who would use this material in a tablet or capsule. Predicated on quality, cleanliness, and price (or course), I would entertain representation of your product to domestic buyers. But, only if you would be interested in representing Montana Beargrass to your markets in Holland.

Some 200 40-foot containers were taken from Coos Bay just last year alone. It all goes to Holland, mostly collected in Washington or Oregon (by the Dutch). Montana Beargrass is the finest product of it’s kind in world, with no serious harvests (as a resource) yet. Trans-Canada One could deliver directly into Thunder Bay. This is called "Trading."

You may find it difficult to compete with domestic Valerian Root, however. The Canadian production show sophisticated farmers who have taken notice of special details. But, with Martin Bower’s absorption of Muggenburg last month, the primary market for this crop is Germany. Do you have representation for this part of Europe?

Also, the world market for this crop in 1987 was estimated by UNCTAD to be just above 1,000 ton annually. Of course, that figure is now probably in excess of 4,200 ton. The amount you suggest for North America at 250 ton might dominate or skew that market, now estimated at less than 700 ton. It all comes down to price (delivered) and quality.

While you ponder this, I’ll make a few calls Monday, and confirm what I think is true on volumes and prices. It has been several years since I dealt with Valerian Root, and I would like to get more informed. Your pricing needs to include a CIF/dock port location, and how the root is packed. I believe there is also now a USP monograph, or raw material specification (for labeling) available for Valerian Root.

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