What are some options for marketing medicinal herbs?

A.P.IowaAnswer: Medicinal herbs—especially native species—have been extensively investigated over the past 25 years as possible alternative crops for small farmers. Summaries of research are included in our publication Herb Production in Organic Systems. Much of the research, as you will see, has been conducted by small farmers who received Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants, funded by USDA for a total of about $2 million dollars. Unfortunately, reliable mainstream bulk markets for domestic suppliers have never materialized. Most growers have found they must formulate and market their own products, or go into entertainment farming, event hosting, plant sales, or related ventures. The Resource article listed below offers the latest available sales figures for medicinal herb product sales in the U.S. (2005). Table 1 in this article reveals that market demand stopped its double-digit growth about 1999. Keep in mind that much of the supply now comes from outside the U.S. There is considerable fluctuation year-by-year in demand for medicinal herbs that are manufactured into dietary supplements. Combinations of herbs have begun to show more growth than single herbs, according to Table 4 in the article.Kansas State University has shown considerable interest in developing alternative crops for Midwest growers. KSU’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops publishes Links to Buyers and Sellers (Herbs) at www.oznet.ksu.edu/ksherbs/links.htm.Most buyers and many farms now do business over the Internet. Some growersgatherers place classified ads in the “Herb Trade” section of Herbnet.com. I have listed contact information below for several companies that trade in medicinal herbs. A comprehensive feasibility study of medicinal herbs as a farm crop was done by the Montana Department of Agriculture and USDA a few years ago.(1) It can be viewed online or downloaded. Reference:1) Brester, Gary, Kole Swanser, and Tim Watts. 2002. Market Opportunities and Strategic Directions for Specialty Herbs and Essential Oil Crops in Montana. Prepared for Montana Department of Agriculture and USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. Watts and Associates, Billings, MT. 64p. www.ams.usda.gov/TMD/FSMIP/FY2000/MT294.pdfResource:Blumenthal, Mark, Grant K.L. Ferrier, and Courtney Cavaliere. 2006. Total sales of herbal supplements in United States show steady growth: Sales in mass market channel show continued decline. HerbalGram. No. 71. p. 64?66.List of Buyers:American BotanicalsP.O. Box 15824750 Hwy. FFEolia, MO 63344(573) 485-2300Appalachian Root & Herb Co.37 Center StreetRainelle, WV 25430(304) 438-5211, 438-5212Since 1972.Blessed Herbs Inc.109 Barre Plains RoadOakham, MA 01068-9675(508) 882-3839(800) 489-4372(508) 882-3755 FAXinfo@blessedherbs.comBouncing Bear BotanicalsP.O. Box 1993Lawrence, KS 66044www.bouncingbearbotanicals.comWindy Pines Natural Herb Farm23295 Marge LaneDix, IL 62830(618) 266-7351Native medicinals only; must be clean.Southern Botanicals 9750 W. Sample Road, Ste. B Coral Springs, FL 33065-4047 (954) 752-5001 www.TheBeeWellCompany.comWildcrafted botanicals.Star West Botanicals11253 Trade Centre Dr.Rancho Cordova, CA 95742(916) 638-8100 (ph./FAX)