Price of frozen organic raspberries

PaulNS(NS zone 6a)August 14, 2006

This is my first year doing serious market gardening - last year was sporadic and I sold a lot of produce cheap. Now I'm checking prices on OPX, reading this forum, calling farmer's markets and the supermarkets...

I tried selling fresh raspberries for $8/quart but the look on people's faces had me going down to $6. I have a few customers who want large quantities of frozen raspberries for jam. A quart of berries weighs over a pound, so shouldn't frozen be worth more? Still, I priced them at $4/pound. But these customers seem dismayed at how little they get at $4/pound, i.e., they hear the price and decide to buy less. Given the labour, freezer space and energy involved $4 seems a bargain to me and is competitive with frozen raspberries from Chile. I want to help people out but I hate to sell so cheap.

I have no competition for raspberries. There are two small grocery stores within a 20 mile radius of here, neither sells fresh raspberries, and all their produce comes from at least an hour and a half's drive away. Population is 2 people per square kilometer.

I'm confused and made very uncomfortable by this pricing business. I do have a few great customers who don't question my prices - they're happy to get fresh, local, organic. These customers are from the city, one is the chef at a local resort.

End of this rather disjointed lament :)

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I haven't sold any this year, but last year I got $3 a HALF PINT for raspberries.
Your price is ridiculously low. I'm not sure it is worth it to even pick them for that price, not even considering the years' worth of work into the plants. Here, if I froze something and sold it, I'd need a processing license along with a kitchen inspection.
MAYBE you could sell them for $8 a quart as a pick-your-own?
When you give food away (that is what I'd call your pricing) people get a warped view of what it takes to produce something, then the spiral continues downward.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 4:58PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Ann, I know you're right. Still, a) I'd hate to end up with a freezer half-full of raspberries. And b) the situation here is possibly more complicated than most places. People gave up farming around here about forty years ago, and we are the only market garden in an 80 mile radius. You would think that would create a big demand for our produce - and it does, but mainly among summer residents. Most local people are in the habit of making big trips to town, which include buying large quantities of produce for canning or freezing at the farmers' markets 80 miles away, where u-pick strawberries, for instance, sell for 90 cents a pound, and big bags of beets are 30 cents/lb. I sold organic strawberries for 2.50/quart U-pick and that was considered unjustly expensive. I can't tell people they're saving on gas by buying locally because they were going to town anyway.

I suppose the learning/educating curve is just going to be steeper here.

Aside from this it's been a great summer for sales at good prices to our nine CSA customers. I'm confident we could double our garden space and sell everything we could grow.

The question remains, is frozen worth more or less than fresh? Frozen has the added energy and labour involved but fresh is fresh.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 8:47AM
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Frozen is less than fresh for the simple reason that its no longer FRESH. We tried the frozen market and it was just "OK" at best. Now we offer raspberry sorbet as a frozen treat as well as an assortment of jams, and jellies containing the fruit. So, in my opinion only, try "Value added" products. And raise your fresh price to $3.50 per half pint. After a while even the restaurants will join in among other customers as they reluctantly have done for me.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 9:00AM
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LOok at it this way. If you double your price, you only have to half as much to make the same amount of money, plus you are educating the consumer about the costs of producing food. If you value your product, you will sell it at a reasonable price, not a flea market discount price. See what they get in the stores for a half pint of raspberries when they can get them. If something is priced too low, people may think the quality isn't good. That's not the image you want to project.
Also, check out the farmers market that is 80 miles away. It is a really long haul, but if you can get a really good price and can supply enough, it may be more profitable, especially if you combine your trip with other business in that town.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 10:07AM
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ohiorganic(5/6 SW Ohio)

Your problem is you are selling raspberries in quarts when they should be sold in pints or better yet, half pints. My advice is to change the packaging (make pint or 1/2 pints of berries and raise the price. I get $5 a pint and $3 a 1/2 pint for raspberries and always sell out.

Notice what the grocery store do with such items-they sell them in tiny packages for a lot of money.

People are used to paying $4 to $5 for a pint of raspberries but are not used to paying $6 for a quart. Partly because most people do not see the difference in sizes between pints/quarts/1/2 pints etc.. Strange but true-they just see a box and a price. So $6 a quart berries to most people is the more expensive than a $4 pint of berries even though it is a lot cheaper in reality.

As for selling frozen berries you can probably do this legally as long as all sales are on farm sales.

But instead of selling frozen berries for people to make into jam etc., make the jam yourself and sell that for $7 to $8 a pint jar. It may take a while to sell them at the price but than again they will not spoil so you have time.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 2:46PM
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Advice is good except for jam sizes. Pints of jam are overkill. Six to 8 oz. jars are common. We package all jams and jellies in 4 oz. jars. If they like the flavor they will buy a few. I admit the jar price is the largest layout but the smaller jars imply quality in a smaller quanity.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 4:35PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Well I just charged our friendly resort chef $4/pound for baby chioggia beets with tops. What was I thinking? I was thinking how it took three plantings to get any - the first two were eaten by slugs - and then slug bait, wood ashes, hand picking, beer and cloches to salvage half the third planting. But I think the chef thought I overcharged. Really not sure I'm cut out for this business.

I just heard that some local people are suspicious of this thing we do called 'composting', as if it's unsanitary..

Yes, we've thought about value-adding, but don't have enough time. Plus we're not jam makers in this family. (Now raspberry schnapps....that would be good...) And all sorts of regulations kick in when you start preserving on a scale to make it worthwhile. Freezing's relatively easy and I haven't bothered looking into regulations.

My reasoning why frozen raspberries should be more expensive is because they're not 'seconds' - they're just as good as the fresh, and frozen within an hour of picking. But no, you can't get around the fact they're not fresh.

People here aren't used to paying for fresh raspberries, period. In good summers they pick them wild. Nobody in their right mind would pay 4/pint at the supermarket let alone a half pint.

The mentality here among local people seems to be that they should be getting local produce cheaper than what they'd pay in town. They take it personally if you charge the same or more. It's an isolated place and rugged so there's a survivor mentality. I should be helping them survive by selling food cheap, they seem to think. The fact that they have the cash to drive 2 hours to buy produce in the farmer's market or supermarket is unrelated.

Sorry to be so cranky. It's been great to find this site where people discuss pricing etc. I'll think about getting smaller boxes next year and charge more. People who pick and sell wild blueberries seem to get away with that.

'flea market prices' - I'll be using that term, thanks.

bmoser I enjoyed your website and learned something from your description of growing raspberries. I like the portable greenhouse.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 2:04PM
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One added note that might help sales if you want to proceed with frozen raspberries if good quality. Flash freeze the berries individually (on cookie sheet, etc)before bagging them and refreezing. That way your customers can get an individual berry image instead of a large frozen mass. Also keep them packed in a styrofoam insulated container so they don't thaw. Display a picture of the bag, rather than the bag itself. And purchase some bubblewrap mailer envelopes for customers that want to get the berries home in a frozen state. The mailers are for only short time transport but it is your consideration that counts here.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 3:19PM
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