How to Sell Tomatoes for Profit

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Selling tomatoes profitably can help you sustain your business.
Selling tomatoes profitably can help you sustain your business. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you enjoy growing produce and have the skill and resources necessary to produce appetizing tomatoes, you may be able to grow and sell your tomatoes as a part-time venture or even a full-time business. Growing tomatoes gives you the opportunity to earn extra income or a full-time living while providing customers with high-quality produce for a variety of dishes, sauces and salsas. However, in order to create and sustain a viable business, you will need to take steps to ensure you are selling at a profit.

Determine your supply costs for the growing season. Supplies might include seeds, fertilizer, weed control chemicals, tools, water and bags or cartons for selling to customers.

Calculate your labor costs, represented as an hourly rate, for the growing season. For example, if you set an hourly rate of $10 for yourself and spend 200 hours growing, packaging and transporting your tomatoes, your personal costs are $2,000. Also, calculate labor costs for any employees or independent helpers you hire.

Determine your transportation costs for making your tomatoes available for your customers. Transportation costs might include gasoline, vehicle maintenance, vehicle loan payments and parking fees.

Calculate your non-transportation costs associated with making your tomatoes available. For example, if you sell your tomatoes through a local farmer's market, determine any costs associated with renting space for your booth or stall.

Add all of your costs incurred for growing and distributing your tomatoes and divide this amount by the number of pounds of tomatoes you can sell. Do not include tomatoes that are damaged if you cannot sell them. This calculation represents your cost per pound.

Set a price per pound that is higher than your cost per pound to realize a profit. For example, if you have 100 pounds of tomatoes available for sale and your total costs equal $2 per pound, you will need to charge a price of more than $2 per pound to realize a profit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in mind that your ability to sell tomatoes profitably will depend on demand and the maximum price that the market will bear.
  • Consider selling tomatoes through a "you pick" arrangement, in which customers come to your field to pick their own tomatoes. This approach allows you to minimize transportation and distribution costs, which may allow you to sell your tomatoes at a lower price per pound while still realizing a profit.
  • Consider the costs incurred by groceries and supermarkets if you plan to sell directly to these businesses. Selling to retail grocers can reduce the time and money spent working directly with customers; however, because groceries and markets have to pay for overhead, advertising and other costs, they will likely purchase your tomatoes at wholesale prices.

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