As a heads up, Elissa and I are planning to raise the prices of our microgreens beginning with the February 1 market. Prices thus far have been $4 for one item (pre-cut clamshell or live 5″x5″ tray), $6 for two items (effectively $3 unit price for two or more items). Our plan is to, on February 1, set prices at $5 for one item, $8 for two items (aka $4 unit price for 2+ items).
Our “customer loyalty” program will adjust with that price increase accordingly. If you haven’t heard about the loyalty program, we wanted to have some way to reward customers who buy from us again and again. So the scheme we brewed up is that, if you sign up for the program (sign up sheet at our table at the market), every 4th market day in which you buy something from us, we’ll give you a free item. This “free item” has effectively been a $4 value, but that value will increase to $5 on February 1. As in, if you’re due a free item February 1 or later, you can still get a free 5″x5″ live tray or pre-cut clamshell despite the prices for those items having been raised. Eggs and veggies (when we have them) would still be freebie options, as well, though no price changes imminent for those.
So why are we raising prices?
Microgreens, it seems, have been generally increasing in popularity nation/world -wide for a number of years, but they are still more or less a niche, specialty product. There just aren’t many vendors around. In this area, maybe one per farmer’s market at best? So it can be challenging to gauge where the market is for microgreens in terms of price per unit. And certainly product quality comes into play, though that is not as easy to quantify. But, as best we can estimate, we have been generally below local market value from the beginning, and in some cases significantly below, depending on the comparison.
Undercutting other farmers, from what we’ve been told, is detrimental in the long run… not only to the farmer doing the undercutting, but also the other farmers who are being undercut. To use a buzz word, you might say it’s “unsustainable”. In our case, we’re still just getting going with this farming experiment, and we have all kinds of ideas for things to try and directions to take the business, but most of those ideas have associated costs to pay before product can be brought to market. The salad mix idea that I mentioned recently, for example, requires some amount of additional infrastructure and up-front purchases before we can bring the first batch to market (hopefully late March). Greenhouse poly, electrical conduit for low tunnels, compost delivery, additional refrigeration for post-harvest (likely in the form of a yet-to-be-built walk-in cooler). And the funds for those items can’t yet be pulled from salad mix revenue… because we obviously haven’t sold any yet :-p So we have a bit of financial shuffling to do, and underselling our microgreens isn’t helping in that regard. And, as far as other farmers, lowballing them on price potentially affects their sales and could cause them to lower price in turn. Enough of that sort of behavior at a macro level can shift the market in the wrong direction, and small farms have a hard enough time staying viable in the business as it is.
Overall, we have been excited and encouraged by the response we’ve gotten at the market since we started attending in late June last year. We absolutely value the relationships we’ve built with our customers over these months, and we want to continue to nurture all of that goodness. From a customer point of view, obviously, nobody likes paying more for something, and there is certainly a risk that this increase will turn some people away and cause us to lose sales as a result. However, not merely staying afloat, but growing over the long term will, as mentioned, warrant investing more time and money along the way, and we’re hoping that the net result of this change will put us in a better position to do that going forward.
Many thanks to anyone and everyone who has come by our table. After the market closure this past Saturday, we’re looking to get back at it this coming weekend (January 25, 9am – 1pm). Hope to see you then!