Wildcrafting Herbs and Selling to Richters
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jason Hayes
Posted on: June 17, 2003

Thank you for the response to my question of a couple of weeks ago. I live in Ontario, about two hours west of Richters. I’d been thinking at the time I wrote that I’d be heading out to B.C. for a foraging trip, but am now considering sticking around for the summer, trying to sell to Richters, or to other botanical companies here in the east. Beverly Brown, however, does not phone me back. I am surrounded here by such things as horsetail, buckthorn, hawthorn, burdock, nettle, wild ginger, mullein, and have friends in B.C. who know of big stands of devil’s club and osha. Do you do any business in the east, or have any info on what’s up at Richters in the wildcrafted purchasing dept?

Richters, like most herb companies that deal in bulk dried botanicals, has established suppliers that we prefer to buy from. Unless there is a problem with supply we rarely stray from those preferred suppliers. Why is that the case? Because of issues of botanical identity, quality, and whether or not ethical wildcrafting practices have been observed. A new supplier, especially one that is inexperienced, automatically raises questions about these issues, and there is a significant cost to the buyer of addressing each of those concerns for each new supplier.

For new entrants to the herb business just about the only way to get attention from buyers is to have samples to show. Most buyers contend with lots of calls and email messages from people offering to wildcraft or grow herbs only to find later that offers often fail to materialize. Rather than spend a lot of time with people who say that they can collect or grow a certain herb, buyers will insist on samples before starting any serious discussions with a new supplier. And generally buyers will only get back to a new supplier if their existing suppliers are in short supply or quality problem develops.

P.S. As you may be gathering by now, I am really just starting out. I picked up a copy of your first book at Richters and it was very helpful, but I had no idea that a big order meant multiple semi containers when I used that phrase in my first letter to you. The notion of a ton of any commodity is more along the lines I was thinking. Thanks again for your time and attention.

You may wish to work with a broker who can help you to learn the ropes. Richard Alan Miller of Northwest Botanicals is one such broker.

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