Wheatgrass shots have become an increasingly popular health food in recent years. Derived from the young grass shoots of the wheat plant, wheatgrass is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the purported benefits of wheatgrass include boosting immunity, detoxification, anti-inflammation, and nutrient density.
While wheatgrass shots cannot replace eating a balanced diet, they can be a nutritious addition to your routine. But a shot of wheatgrass doesn’t come cheap – prices typically range from $2 to $4 per ounce. For those interested in adding wheatgrass shots into their diet, it’s helpful to understand what goes into the cost of a shot. We’ll break down the typical expenses involved in producing and selling wheatgrass shots, and provide some tips for finding affordable options.
What is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass refers to the young grass shoots that grow from wheat kernels. It is sold as a nutritional supplement in three main forms:
- Fresh juice shots
- Frozen juice shots
- Powdered concentrates
Fresh wheatgrass juice is considered the most nutritious option, as it contains live enzymes and nutrients. To make it, wheatgrass shoots are juiced using a specialized juicer. The resulting bright green juice is then bottled and sold as individual shots. Frozen wheatgrass shots retain most nutrients, while being more shelf-stable. Dried wheatgrass powder is the least nutritious form, but offers convenience.
Wheatgrass shots contain at least a dozen vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds like chlorophyll, flavonoids and amino acids. Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives wheatgrass its vivid green color. Some key nutrients in wheatgrass shots include:
- Vitamins A, C and E
- B vitamins like thiamine and riboflavin
- Minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium
- Amino acids
This nutrient profile is why wheatgrass is called a “superfood” and claimed to provide health benefits. However, most scientific research has been limited to animal and test tube studies so far. More research is needed to confirm effects in humans.
Costs of Producing Wheatgrass Shots
So why doesn’t a shot of wheatgrass cost the same as a shot of orange juice or other fruit juices? Producing fresh wheatgrass shots involves significant expenses not associated with making most other juices. Here are the main production costs:
Wheatgrass needs to be grown indoors in climate controlled rooms, unlike most crops. So facilities need to invest in proper lighting, irrigation, ventilation, humidity control and other equipment to create ideal growing conditions. Either soil or hydroponic systems can be used. Personnel time is also required for planting, monitoring, and harvesting the wheatgrass.
Extracting the juice from wheatgrass requires specialized juicing equipment. Wheatgrass has tough cell walls that are difficult to break down, unlike the soft pulp of fruits. So high-power juicers known as masticating or triturating juicers are needed. These industrial machines compress the shoots at low speeds to squeeze out the juice. The equipment represents a major upfront cost.
Bottling and Packaging
To maximize freshness, wheatgrass juice needs to be bottled immediately after juicing. Small 1-4 oz plastic or glass bottles are filled by hand or using automated equipment. Packaging like labels and caps also contribute to costs. Bottling and packaging equipment requires maintenance and repairs over time as well.
Storage and Transportation
Fresh wheatgrass juice has a very limited shelf life. Refrigeration is needed throughout storage and transit to retain nutrients. Some facilities freeze shots after bottling to extend shelf life. Cold storage and expedited shipping expenses factor into the retail cost.
Facilities and Labor
In addition to production equipment, facilities require rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and general upkeep. Personnel costs are also considerable, as many tasks in the wheatgrass production process require human labor and oversight. These facility and labor expenses are ultimately passed onto the consumer.
As with any retail product, wheatgrass shots need to be marked up significantly from the base production costs in order to turn a profit. Most standard retail markups range from 2-3x the wholesale price. So the $3 wheatgrass shot you buy may only cost around $1 to produce – the rest is profit margin.
Typical Retail Prices Per Ounce
Based on the expenses outlined above, producers need to charge a premium price for wheatgrass shots compared to other juice products. Here are some typical retail prices per ounce that consumers can expect to pay:
|Typical Price Per Ounce
|Juice Bars and Cafes
|$2 – $4
|$3 – $4
|Health Food Stores
|$3 – $5
|$2 – $4
As you can see, juicing outlets like cafes and bars offer the lowest prices at around $2 per ounce. This makes sense since they produce wheatgrass on-site and don’t have to account for transportation and third-party distribution costs.
Grocery stores charge slightly higher prices, while specialized health food stores have the highest prices per ounce. Buying directly from the producer’s website can offer savings compared to retail markups.
Based on these numbers, a standard 2-4 ounce shot of wheatgrass costs $4 to $16. That’s why you blink twice when you see the tab after ordering one!
Ways to Reduce the Costs
If you want to add wheatgrass shots into your routine but don’t want to pay retail prices indefinitely, here are some ways to reduce the costs:
Buy In Bulk
Purchasing wheatgrass shots in bulk directly from a juicer, either online or in large quantities from a cafe, can save you at least 50% compared to buying individual shots. You can store extra bottles in the freezer.
If you don’t need a full 2-4 ounce shot, ask to split a shot with a friend to get your wheatgrass fix for half the price. This works well if you’re just looking for a quick nutrient boost.
Grow Your Own
Of course, the most surefire way to save is to grow and juice wheatgrass at home. You can buy wheatgrass growing kits for around $50, then it’s just pennies per tray for supplies. Home juicers to extract the wheatgrass cost from $200-$500. There’s labor involved, but you’ll get an endless supply of fresh wheatgrass for a fraction of retail prices.
Substitute with Powder
Dried wheatgrass powder is another economical alternative, costing around $15-$30 per pound. Though less nutritious than fresh juice, wheatgrass powder contains nutrition in a convenient form that’s easy to mix into shakes, smoothies and other foods.
Is Wheatgrass Worth the Price?
At the end of the day, is wheatgrass worth paying a premium for? Here are some factors to consider:
- For serious health seekers, wheatgrass may provide enough perceived benefits to justify occasional splurging on shots from juice bars. Many consider it a boost to their wellness routines.
- Those on a tight budget are likely better off focusing on eating affordable whole fruits and vegetables vs. wheatgrass shots.
- Growing wheatgrass at home provides the best value for money for regular consumers. The higher upfront costs pay for themselves over time.
- Wheatgrass powder gives more bang for your buck compared to juicing. The convenience may be worth sacrificing some nutrition.
While wheatgrass doesn’t provide any magical health properties, its dense nutrient content can be an asset for those able to fit the cost into their budgets. Consuming fresh fruits, veggies and other whole foods should still be the priority for most when it comes to staying healthy.
The Bottom Line
Wheatgrass shots have boomed in popularity thanks to claims of a wide range of health benefits. However, producing fresh wheatgrass juice involves major expenses for growers and juicers. Between specialized equipment, facilities, transportation and labor costs, wheatgrass is very pricey to take from seed to bottle.
These productions costs mean wheatgrass shots typically retail for $2 to $5 per ounce – much pricier than other juice shots. But consumers have some options to reduce the costs, like buying in bulk, splitting shots, growing wheatgrass at home or using wheatgrass powder.
While wheatgrass may offer some nutritional advantages, it remains an expensive supplement. Getting your nutrients primarily from whole fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds is a more affordable strategy for most people. But for wheatgrass enthusiasts, finding ways to fit it into the budget can provide an extra health boost.