One of the biggest obstacles to adopting a healthy lifestyle is the price of the grocery bill when choosing organic, non-processed foods. And if you are interested in adding the “vegetable confetti” known as microgreens to your shopping list, then you will see an even greater price hike, as they are up to 20 times more expensive, on a per pound basis than full-size veggies.
Why are microgreens so expensive? Microgreens are so expensive for a variety of reasons, the majority of which revolve around them being trendy and extremely nutrient-rich. As with most items that quickly gain popularity in the health food community, customers will have to pay a tidy premium for their microgreens.
While microgreens are extremely expensive, that should not necessarily be a deterrent to exploring the micro world. As with everything, with all costs come benefits, and it is best for all interested customers to explore the reasons behind microgreens’ high price tag and decide if they are worth their hard-earned dollars.
Why Microgreens Are So Expensive: The Economics
The average selling price for microgreens is generally between $25 and $40 per pound. There are a number of different factors that work together to make these small veggies a premium item at checkout.
Factor One: Microgreens are Trendy
Arguably the most significant reason that microgreens are so expensive, on a per pound basis, is that they are the trendy new kid on the block.
While “regular” vegetables have been around for centuries, microgreens are thought to have arrived on the scene of the culinary world just 20 years ago.
Even when they arrived, though, they were mainly relegated to the realm of garnishments for fancy restaurant dishes. It was not until several years ago that microgreens emerged as a viable health food option for purchase and consumption by the general public.
Therefore, it is easy to see why microgreens may be more expensive than traditional vegetables, as producers can easily charge premium prices for foods that are known to be associated with fancy restaurants. Think about why caviar is so expensive.
The Lifecycle of a Product
However, even if this association with fancy restaurants were not a factor, a basic economic understanding of the product life cycle can help illustrate the reasons behind the high cost of microgreens. The characteristics of the product life cycle are as follows:
- Introduction – this stage is defined by low sales, high cost per customer, few competitors, and adoption by only the most innovative customers
- Growth – this stage is defined by an increase in sales, lowering cost per customer, a large influx of competitors into the market, and increased adoption from a broader pool of customers
- Maturity – this stage sees a peak in sales, the lowest average cost per customer, a stable but established competitor base, and adoption by the mass market
- Decline – this stage sees sales fall, profits decrease, and competitors and customers leave the market
Regular vegetables are in the maturity stage of the product life cycle. They have been around for a long time, are consumed by many people, and have a firmly established base of growers and distributors in the market. As such, there is significant pressure on regular vegetables to keep prices as low as possible.
As microgreens have been around for such a short time, however, they are still in the introduction stage of the product life cycle. They are adopted by a few consumers, typically only those who are willing to pay a premium price for the purported advantages that new products provide.
It should be noted that there is an increasing number of microgreen farmers, bringing additional competition into the market. This factor, along with more consumers adopting them, should move microgreens into the growth stage of the product life cycle very soon, leading to a reduction in the hefty price tag.
Factor Two: Microgreens are Nutrient-rich
Shopping for groceries is pretty straightforward if you have a basic understanding of nutrition. Foods that are full of important compounds such as protein, fiber, and a full complex of vitamins and minerals will be expensive; foods that offer nothing but sugar, carbohydrates, and calories will be cheap.
With this in mind, it is easy to see why microgreens are some of the most expensive food items on the market. While traditional vegetables are known to be some of the most nutrient-rich foods one can consume, the smaller microgreens can be up to 50 percent more nutrient-dense than their full-size counterparts.
For example, while a cup of full-size red cabbage has 69 mg of vitamin C per cup, that same cup of microgreen red cabbage has 103 mg of vitamin C. While this ratio is not the same for all nutrients and vegetable types, microgreens are consistently more nutritious than full-size vegetables.
In a society that values healthy food and is increasingly willing to pay higher prices for food options that increase the likelihood of living a longer and healthier life, microgreens are able to command a higher price than full-size vegetables.
Factor Three: Microgreens are Sold by Premium Vendors
As microgreens still have yet to be adopted by the mass market, they are more readily available at specialized stores and not as likely to be on the shelves of the major discount supermarkets.
Therefore, because microgreens are generally offered by merchandisers who are able to command higher prices, it follows that their price will be high as well.
Again, as microgreens get into more advanced stages of the product life cycle, it can be expected that they will be available at a broader range of merchandisers, putting downward pressure on the price.
Microgreens Are Expensive: Perspectives
While there is no denying that microgreens are quite pricey, there are several factors that can help put this high price into perspective.
Price per Nutrient
Although some microgreens are up to 20 times more expensive, on a per-pound basis than their full-size counterparts, they can also be as much as twice as nutritious.
Therefore, the pound price gets cut in half if you take nutrition facts into consideration, making the price seem more palatable.
While $25 to $40 per pound is a steep price to pay for vegetables, you must consider that it will take a lot of microgreens to get to a pound.
Most microgreen purchases will be for just a few ounces, so while the pound price is still high, the final cost at checkout will not be hefty due to purchases in quantities significantly lower than a pound.
There are certainly people who cook microgreens and serve them as a nutritious side dish to eat with a meal.
However, there are many who use microgreens as more of a booster to get additional nutritional value with their meals. Some examples include:
- Garnishments for steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops
- Toppings sprinkled on to regular salads
- Pinched into smoothies or protein shakes
When used like this, small volumes of microgreens can last a long time.
RELATED: The Best Ways to Store Microgreens
Good for Kids
It is no secret that a lot of kids do not like to eat their vegetables. Even Popeye could not make spinach as popular as Oreos among the young ones.
If you are a parent of such a child, the high price of microgreens may be worthwhile, as kids may be more willing to eat “cute” vegetables. If not, a spoonful of microgreens can add as much nutrition for your child as can a full serving of some regular veggies.