Where to Find Herb Market Volumes and Trends
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Marco Aurilio
Posted on: April 09, 2005

I am just entering the world of herb cultivation. I left the pharma industry as a chemist and believe that plants are just much better chemists than we will ever hope to be. Where can I find info on medicinal and culinary herb market volumes and trends? I am trying to start-up this spring!!

Let’s start your foundation with my website articles at http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/a_a_index.html, specifically the one on marketing resources, http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/marketingrsrc.htm . You may find some of the other articles worth a read.

My book "The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop" (Acres, USA) is available from Richters or Acres, USA. It has 4 chapters on marketing, all worth understanding. While some of the references are old, this is classic and where you will find most current prices. It discusses such important resources such as "Chemical Marketing Reporter," a bi-weekly tabloid with current NY spot pricing on most spices and some herb/oil crops.

The Foreign Agricultural Service is another excellent resources, found by the keyword "USDA FAS." Also include International Trade Centre UNCTAD/GATT (Geneva). About every ten years they upgrade their bulletins (books) on Medicinal Plants and Spices, among a number of other categories. This is also listed in my various books, to include "Native Plants of Commercial Importance."

Another newer form of marketing is the COG (certified organically grown) crops. As with most alternative crops, more and more buyers want some form of due diligence on how the crop was grown. Many of these come from Israel or Holland, but most are grown in North America. There is one firm in southern CA mailing ordering 10x this quantity each week for normal regional demands. There are also a number of premiere regional spice companies to sell these quantities. At this volume level, prices remain somewhat "consistent."

Depending on whom you sell these crops, best prices range from US$2.50 - 4.00/lb., FOB for fresh material (Basils). These prices can increase during the winter months to more than US$12.00/lb., delivered (NY deli trade). In 1992 there were more than 201 Basil growers from the Island of Maui just servicing NYC for winter needs.

This varies now, with more regional and local growers (metro-farming) working regions. And, Greenhouse productions are now becoming more feasible for "off-season" productions, especially using hydroponics systems. Here are a few resources which might help you further:

Farmer’s Market Online (www.farmersmarketonline.com): Operated by Outrider New Service, this online marketplace provides a space where shoppers from around the world can meet, correspond, and purchase products directly from farmers, ranchers, and artists.

Internet Marketing Center (www.marketingtips.com/index.html): The Center offers online marketing tips and strategies, success stories, a free monthly newsletter, and research resources.

Sustainable Farming Connection (www.sunsite.unc.edu/farming/connection/growmark/netmark/netmark.htm): This site brings information about how to cut costs, grow healthful food, build strong rural communities, and improve the environment. The site also features "Net Marketing: How Farmers Are Using the Internet to Reach and Satisfy Customers."

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