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University of Minnesota Extension

Garlic enterprise analysis

Key findings 

  • An analysis of Minnesota garlic enterprises found that they are operating profitably.
  • During the 2017 season, nearly all sales were directly to consumers, with an average price of $9.19 per pound.
  • Eight growers spent an average of $4.93 to produce a pound of garlic.
  • When starting or operating a garlic enterprise, consider the following:
    • Expect modest production and profitability
    • Realize profitability will be mostly tied to price and yield
    • Acknowledge the cost of seed will impact profitability during start-up season

About this study

Events like the Sustainable Farming Association’s Garlic Fest, as well as general consumer interest in garlic, have drawn increased attention to the crop (Phaneuf, 2018). Current and potential growers are interested in learning more about the financial returns of this niche crop. Despite this interest, little published data on garlic exists, especially in the Upper Midwest.

The purpose of this analysis is threefold. First, these findings will assist both current and potential garlic growers in business planning. Second, marketing cost data may assist Extension’s grocery backhaul team (who sponsored this research) in calculating the potential savings of their activities with garlic producers. The backhaul team is piloting the feasibility of a new model for garlic growers to access wholesale markets. Growers will use the existing network of rural grocery stores, as well as wholesale suppliers, to backhaul locally grown produce on emptied wholesale trucks for redistribution through wholesale markets.

The third purpose of this study is to provide participating growers with information to benchmark their own business. A comparison with similar operations may help spark new ways of revising current production and marketing practices to increase profitability.

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Author: Ryan Pesch, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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