6 Marketing Tips To Help You Sell More Lettuce

Approaches to packaging, preparation, harvest time and sharing your knowledge with customers can increase sales of lettuce, a high-profit crop.

by Jesse Frost
PHOTO: Jesse Frost

Lettuce is a versatile, high-profit crop for growers. Customers love and know what to do with it. Many ways exist for marketing lettuce and adding to its potential as a product. So if you are wondering about options for selling more lettuce, let’s consider the many ways in which lettuce can in fact be sold.

1. Share Knowledge Of Your Crop

Especially at a farmers market where you are talking directly to customers, it is helpful to know your crop in order to better sell it. For instance, lettuce is a member of the daisy family, which is a fun fact for customers, and though different kinds of lettuces will have different nutrient levels, lettuce is generally high in vitamins A and K, as well as iron and calcium. It can be eaten raw; added to soups, sandwiches or wraps; and even grilled (romaines are especially good for this). Learn a few additional tidbits like this and customers will appreciate the extra effort.

2. Package Head Lettuce Properly

In my experience, head lettuces have become somewhat of a niche item in recent years as they require more processing on the part of the customer (cutting and washing), though they certainly still have their fans. Restaurants in particular enjoy head lettuces, as do retail shops. At the farmers market, head lettuces can wilt fast, so in order to sell them consistently, considering your packaging is critical. Clam shells, which are generally recyclable plastic boxes, are worth considering for selling head lettuces at the farmers market because they can contain a whole head and help protect it from the elements. Place your farm label on top and you’re ready to go.

3. Cut The Lettuce

Cut lettuce (often called spring mix) appeals to customers because it is already chopped and ready to dress—just add vinaigrette. Typically, you would put the cut lettuce into bags with a nice label and sell them that way. Restaurants and retailers also use a lot of cut lettuce, and it is an excellent source of income to find one or two large sources that need a consistent order of several pounds per week.

4. Harvest Earlier For Baby And Micro Lettuce

Almost any crop that is sold young and tender draws a premium. Though not a perfect definition, micro lettuce would be considered anything right around the first true leaves, while baby lettuce comes about 10 to 15 days later when the leaves are very small. Be gentle with these crops as they will bruise easily, but sell them for at least one and a half times per pound what you would for spring mix or head lettuce. Microgreens, in fact, often sell for more than $1 per ounce—$16 per pound—minimum.  I wouldn’t necessarily go lower than that except in the case of bulk orders.

5. Sell Lettuce Loose

Occasionally you will see lettuce sold loose at farmers’ markets and retailers so the customer can choose a desired amount weigh it. This can work well as long as the lettuce can be kept out of the sun and wind. Also consider adding some pre-packed bags on the table for customers in a hurry or uncomfortable with packing their own.

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6. Create Salad Mix

In these days when customers can receive all they need to cook a meal in the mail, the salad mix is a way farmers can compete with the increasing number of meal delivery services. The idea is to offer everything for a salad and sell it as a package. For instance, maybe the salad is cherry tomatoes, peppers, red onions and lettuce. Put it together in a nice clam shell package of your choice and charge a premium. If you have a commercial kitchen you could even slice the ingredients and make a vinaigrette. This makes it an even easier purchase for the customer and a simple value add for you.

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