The untapped microgreen market

 

By Tobias Heeringa

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In Australia—microgreens are an up and coming food trend, and for good reason! We believe these little plants have serious potential to help people live healthier lives. But since they are so new to the consumer market, there is little common knowledge available about how Australians actually feel about microgreens. 

We could spend all day telling you why you should eat microgreens, the nutrition benefits, the small environmental footprint, but ultimately we are interested in what you have to say.. ‘Why do you like microgreens?’ and ‘Why would you eat them?’ 

In July we conducted a two week survey, open to our Farmwall social media community and to the general public, where we listened to what people had to say about their diets, their consumer behaviour and their feelings towards microgreens. The results were fascinating. We’d like to share the three main things we learnt from our survey with you:

1—Awareness of microgreens is low, but interest to try them is high.

Not surprisingly, a high percentage of those within our community (our social media and mailing list) knew what microgreens were. 81% to be precise. Keep it up legends! However responses from the general public showed a 50/50 split as to either knowing or not knowing what microgreens are.

In Australia the market for microgreens is largely still in hospitality, and it’s hard for the individual consumer to purchase them. So it makes sense that half of people surveyed wouldn’t know what they are. We believe this will change however, largely due to this incredible stat:

98% of those who had tried microgreens liked them.
96% of those who had not tried microgreens, wanted to try after we explained what they are.

That's a pretty resounding affirmation for microgreens! The demand is certainly there. We encounter this interest often from individuals who have access to a Farmwall, and seeing it reflected in larger numbers from the survey really hammered home that people would like more microgreens.

So what was it about microgreens that really appeals to people? 

2—Nutrition is really important to this group of Australians, and they find microgreens most appealing for their superfood qualities.

Have you ever wondered what people care most about food? Ask one person and they will tell you they are all about the delicate flavours and intricate pairings combined to create exquisite meals of incredible taste. Ask another and they will tell you food to them is simply fuel to their bodies. Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum, there is one important aspect of food that is a priority for many Australians. Nutrition

89% of our survey respondents were interested in finding new ways to add vitamins to their diet. 

We are coming to understand more and more about the role good nutrition plays in a positive mindset and healthy lifestyle. But we understand that it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet all the time, or prioritise nutrition in every meal. When it comes to microgreens; their potential as a superfood could be a great opportunity to help the time poor individual get an extra nutrient kick to every meal.

61% of our respondents selected nutrition as the main appealing aspect of microgreens. 

The amazing thing about microgreens is how great they are for you. Microgreens have high levels of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. A study from the USDA found that microgreens contained “considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids – about five times greater – than their mature plant counterparts.” This makes them a really easy way to pack a punch of vitamins and nutrients to any diet with ease and convenience (if they are readily available to the consumer!)

3—The home chef market is growing, with more and more people wanting DIY microgreen kits for the ‘farm to table’ experience in their own homes.

When asked how they would like to access microgreens, over half of respondents said they would prefer a microgreen growing kit that allows them to grow microgreens themselves. 

In a world of globalised food and extensive supply chains, knowing where your food comes and it’s traceability is becoming a consumer demand. The level of freshness and quality can also make a huge difference to the dining experience.

In Australia, this local food movement has really taken off in the world of dining out. There are a growing number of venues using locally sourced produce or self tended gardens, catering to this demographic of consumers who value the farm to table experience. So it makes sense that the home chef wants to bring this experience even closer.

More than half of our respondents also said they have herb gardens already at home. The fact that people want to grow their own food suggests there is something about the supermarket experience that is leaving people unsatisfied. The lack of transparency as to where food is coming from, the waste from packaging, and the general sense of disconnection from food are all things that might inspire people to look for something different.

Farmwalls grow nutritious microgreens in re-plantable cups, meaning our microgreens can provide people the ability to either plant out a herb garden at home or participate in urban foraging by planting food across their city. We hope these microgreen cups allow time poor people to get the best of both worlds, to have access to high quality, local produce, as well as be able to easily plant the cups to reclaim self sufficiency.

 
Serena Lee