Fruits and vegetables are used regularly by a number of types of small businesses. Operators of restaurants, food trucks and food carts buy produce to prepare their dishes, and need to keep an eye on the prices to keep food costs down. Gardeners sell their fruits and vegetables at markets and to gourmet grocery stores. Small-scale manufacturers of food use fruits and vegetables as ingredients in their products. Pricing for fruits and vegetables is based on several variable factors, but affects all of these types of small businesses.


Produce is usually sold by the pound, in packages, or by the item. Examples include squash sold by the amount it weighs, a head of lettuce sold individually, or a 5-pound bag of potatoes. In some cases you'll find produce sold by the pound and by the piece. For example, watermelon may be sold for 59 cents per pound for the standard sizes, or $3 each for the mini melons. If you're selling your fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market, it's more productive to sell by the piece or to package with no weighing involved. Keep a scale on hand for customers to see how much they're getting for the price.

Edible Portion

When pricing fruits and vegetables for a restaurant, the edible portion is the true cost of the produce. For example, a pomegranate may sell for $2, but it has quite a bit of waste from the skin and seeds. A 4-ounce glass of pomegranate juice may require three pomegranates. Some vegetables cook down significantly. A 12-ounce bag of raw spinach may cost $3 and make four salad-size servings, but only two servings when cooked. Other vegetables such as fava beans have an outer casing that is inedible, and each bean inside the casing has a covering that has to be removed as well. A pound of fava beans results in less than a half-pound of edible beans.


How to price your fruits and vegetables depends on where you're selling them. Wholesale prices are about half of the retail price, so selling to restaurants or gourmet grocery stores means you'll receive less than if selling directly to consumers. The advantage is that you have a steady stream of sales once the wholesale customers have been established. Seasonality plays a part in pricing, especially if your fruits and vegetables are available slightly earlier or later than the majority of those available locally. This is possible by planting early or late ripening varieties, or growing the fruits and vegetables in a greenhouse for an early start.


Selling directly to consumers at a cooperative market or farmer's market allows you to set higher prices than when selling wholesale, but shoppers are well aware of what they pay at the grocery store and the quality they get. If your fruits and vegetables are priced significantly higher, there should be a basis, such as yours are locally grown -- not imported from foreign countries -- or are organic, or are fresher because they were picked that morning. Other advantages could be your tomatoes are vine ripened, not ripened by gas, or that you have heirloom varieties or unusual varieties, such as pink, chocolate or white.


The United States Department of Agriculture has priced out the 153 most common fruits and vegetables. This is a benchmark for your pricing at the retail level. The department also has a listing of weekly prices based on supermarket pricing.