The commercial aquaponic market has various end-user and distribution channels, including, but not limited to; farmer's markets, farm stands, community supported agriculture, grocery stores, restaurants, institutions, and wholesalers. Generally speaking, the larger producers sell into the distribution, or indirect, channels; grocery, restaurants, institutions and wholesalers. Size of operations remain varied as a clear-cut standard operating procedure continues to be evaluated. To better get a sense of costs involved in an operation, see the two tables from Richard Chiang's Cost/Benefit Analysis of Aquaponic Systems. Focusing on new ways to improve water, space and labor will without a doubt increase yields for all sizes of operations. Doing so without chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers and pH adjusters can position commercial owners in a profitable market segment.
Furthermore, a study performed by John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found a couple of interesting correlations amongst profitable commercial aquaponics farms. First, farmers who depend on their farm as their sole source of income are more likely to be profitable. And second, that farms who sold products in addition to food, such as educational services or composting worms were significantly more likely to be profitable. Finally, the point many farms reported $50,000 in annual revenue as the tipping point for profitability thresholds. These numbers suggest that getting up and running is the largest hurdle for new operations. Getting investor buy-in or having enough investment capital can be a major challenge for operations. There is no doubt however that aquaponic's ability to produce healthy and cost effective produce and fish will provide numerous opportunities for both business and personal health as the industry continues to develop.
Aquaponic systems are becoming increasingly trusted as a leader in solving various problems found in conventional agriculture and aquaculture. The need for increased quality and quantity of various types of products has continued to grow. Studies pointing to the health benefits of a vegetable focused diet with limited red meat continue to strengthen the marketplace for aquaponic growers. As the need for delivering high quality, reasonably priced foods to markets that usually struggle with production (harsh/cold climates) rise an opportunity emerges for technology and new growing techniques. Aquaponics has helped to bridge the gap between the growing need and the profitable business model potential.