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10.2 Marketing

2 years ago

3 min read

The most difficult aspect of any aquaponics operation is developing a realistic and practical marketing scheme (Engle 2015). Location is key for marketing because location determines what is in demand and the size of the market. Having close access to multiple cities significantly increases the market size as well as market demographics and in turn increases demand for product. If the location is within a remote area such as an island, then the market price for the product will be much higher compared to a location in an easily accessible area (Engle 2015). Since aquaponics production can be done year-round, growing and selling produce that is locally considered "out of season" can help achieve a higher price point. Offering a variety of niche crops such as microgreens, house plants, and herbs holds much potential to increase the market as well as profits.

In order to enhance the marketability of aquaponic produce, certain certifications will be extremely helpful. These certifications include organic and certified naturally grown (CNG). In order to maintain the organic label, extra funds will need to be used in order to satisfy the regulations, but overall the product will be able to be marketed as a high-quality product, raising the price consumers are willing to pay. The other option is to be certified as naturally grown, which means no synthetic chemicals are used in the operation, which stands true for most aquaponic farms. While organic is still the word most consumers know, being certified as naturally grown can still draw in top-dollar prices that consumers are willing to pay. No preservatives! No pesticides! No herbicides! Local! Homegrown! These are also labeling strategies that can be used to promote the sale of aquaponic produce. Clever and catchy labeling that is easily spotted in stores can help leave an impression in a consumer\'s mind about the product. Just having aquaponic-grown fish available from a business will make their hydroponically-grown crop more desirable to environmentally-conscience customers, so even though fish may be a small percentage of what the business produces, it serves as a "marketing tool" for all other sales from that business.

Selling directly to restaurants, farmers markets, and CSA markets has potential to generate more revenue compared to selling it wholesale. These routes allow for a closer personal contact with the consumer and allow the aquaponic producer to tell their story. Although wholesale can be much more reliable and easier to work with, the profits are drastically reduced, since the price of the product is sold at a much lower price. Selling wholesale also requires a much larger capacity than what most aquaponics farms have, which is why selling directly to the consumer is typically the market chosen for business.

Source: Janelle Hager, Leigh Ann Bright, Josh Dusci, James Tidwell. 2021. Kentucky State University. Aquaponics Production Manual: A Practical Handbook for Growers.

Kentucky State University

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