Arugula is a favorite crop of mine. It can be a little tricky with the flea beetles, but it’s relatively tolerant of disease and heat tolerant—always something we appreciate in our humid Kentucky climate. However, just because I love growing a crop doesn’t mean it will fly off your shelves (though I will say that being passionate about a crop does help sell it).
Why? Well, it’s spicy, a bit bitter and a little unusual. But arugula definitely has its fans, and I firmly believe that anyone can fall in love with it. So let’s cover how to put the right price on your arugula and how to market it.
How to Price Arugula
As with anything, you need to consider your cost of production when pricing arugula. From seed to fertilizer to labor, all of those costs need to be weighed before landing on a price or a price scale. This is arbitrary, but if a crop cost you $3 in seed, $10 in labor and $4 in fertilizer, no matter how much yield you get, you should charge no less than $17 for all of it. You should never price something below what it cost you to produce it. In fact, you should always—except in cases of a bad crop or an experimental trial—make some amount of profit.
The market in which you decide to sell a crop such as arugula is also a determining factor in pricing. If you sell at a farmers market, you will price higher than if you sell wholesale to restaurants. Moreover, if that farmers market is in a city, you can probably charge more than you could in a small town. Also, if the restaurant or retailer to whom you sell wholesale is a “higher end” establishment, you should be able to get more for your produce than you could selling to a smaller, more affordable place.
To give an idea of arugula’s price range, as long as your arugula looks good (no flea beetle holes or yellowing), you should be able to get $7 to $15 per pound depending on your outlet—maybe more if you’re a savvy marketer or have it out of season (midsummer or midwinter). Don’t be afraid to charge a good price for high quality arugula, as restaurants generally use it in smaller amounts than, say, lettuce or spinach.
How to Market Arugula
Arugula will sell at farmers markets in larger towns and cities—and we always give it at least once to our CSA—but the best source for arugula sales is almost always restaurants, in my opinion. And not just high end restaurants. You can find a lot of businesses—including small bakeshops and artisan pizza joints—who might want to buy a weekly round of arugula.
I recommend selling it in sealed containers—clamshells or plastic bags—as opposed to loose in a bin or ventilated containers. The reason is wilt. A fridge can wilt this crop fast, as it is extremely tender.
You can also sell it in bunches, but I wouldn’t grow bunching arugula unless specifically requested. You can experiment with selling it and ask chefs, but ultimately baby arugula will sell best.
I believe you can also sell arugula to larger retailers, especially once you get consistent at growing it. That is key to marketing—you must be consistent and not give hole-y, wilted or yellowing arugula. However, perfect your growing process and get it in the hands of some buyers, and the arugula will practically market itself.