Calculate how much a homemade macaron costs to make and figure out how much to charge in your home baking business. This posts lists different ways to cut down on production costs and bring more value to your customers without discounting.
How to price homemade macarons is a question some of you who have been making macarons for a while now have probably thought about. This may be especially true after receiving admiration and requests to buy your macarons from those who have seen your work at group gatherings and family events.
In this guide, I incorporate what I learned from my post-secondary studies in business with what I experienced baking batches upon batches of great and sometimes not so great macarons in my home kitchen. I will provide you with a worksheet to calculate how much macarons cost to produce (accounting for those not too great batches too), describe the difference between variable and fixed costs and what that means to your bottom line, give you ideas on how to provide more value as a small baking business, go above and beyond without discounting, determine what your time costs and ultimately set a price for your macarons in a way that offers your customers value while getting paid fairly yourself.
Why Are Macarons So Expensive?
Macarons are more expensive than the average sweet treat because of the costly ingredients and the time and expertise involved in making it. Almond flour and egg whites are the two main ingredients that make up a macaron. In relation to other flours, almond flour is several times more expensive. As for eggs, they are used in a variety of other baked goods but being that eggs make up a big part of the macaron (the egg yolk is not used), the costs do add up. In addition, the filling sandwiched in between the macaron cookies requires other costly ingredients like chocolate and sometimes exotic flavorings.
Besides the actual cost for the ingredients, a high level of expertise is required in making a macaron. Not every pastry chef hired in a regular bakery is trained to make this specialized treat. Even with a high level of training, there is always a chance that the notoriously hard-to-master macarons do not bake well. Special care and time has to be taken to make them and the costs of failed batches have to be accounted for in the overall production. For all the reasons given above, macarons, relative to its size, are usually priced higher than other pastries like cakes or ice cream.
How Much Do Macarons Sell For?
Average sized (1.5") macarons usually sell for $1.50 to $3 (+) depending on a variety of factors like brand, ingredients used and the general market condition in the region where it is purchased.
In my hometown of Vancouver, Canada, we have a very sophisticated culinary scene. The best macarons are usually sold in dedicated macaron shops as opposed to a bakery that sells macarons as an add-on item. We even have Laduree in the city and their macarons sell for $3+ each. Generally speaking, macarons from dedicated macaron shops sell for around $2 - $2.75. I find that non-specialized makers usually charge under $2. Costco even sells large boxes of them in bulk that equals to around $0.44 each.
I asked around and here is a sample of average macaron prices according to my readers in these different cities:
|$2.50||Orange County, CA|
|$24 per dozen||Sacramento, CA|
|$2.5||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|$2.50||San Francisco, CA|
|$2.08||San Antonio, Texas|
|$3-$4 CDN||Toronto, Canada|
|$2.5 CDN||Winnipeg, Canada|
|$2.5 CDN||Calgary, Canada|
|$2 CDN||Brantford, Canada|
|40dhms for 1 dozen||Dubai|
|4-5 PLN||Wroclaw, Poland|
How Much Does it Cost to Make a Macaron?
For the home baker, approximately $0.30 CDN or $0.22 USD each. The actual cost (we're only talking about ingredients at this point) to make a macaron depends largely on the types of ingredients used and how much they cost the maker to procure. Bigger buyers will usually get better bulk pricing but since this post is written for the home baker, let's talk about prices that are accessible to this group. Below is the calculation for a dozen macarons with a basic chocolate filling. I am assuming that the almond flour is made at home to cut down on costs and all the items are purchased in bulk at big boxed stores like Costco, Superstore, Wal-mart etc. that are open to regular consumers (READ: How to Make Your Own Almond Flour)
Cost To Make a Dozen Macarons with Filling (ingredients only)
Almond flour $1.30 CDN = $0.96 USD
Eggs $.50 CDN = $0.37 USD
Sugar powdered = $0.20 CDN = $0.15 USD
Sugar granulated = $0.10 CDN = $0.07 USD
Cream of tartar = $.03 CDN = $0.02 USD
Couverture Chocolate = $1.30 CDN = $0.96 USD
Cream = $0.36 CDN = $0.27 USD
Total = $3.79 CDN/DOZEN = $2.80 USD/DOZEN
This works out to be $0.32 CDN each = $0.23 USD
Now that we have established the cost to make a macaron based on the ingredients alone, it's important to factor in other costs such as overhead, breakages, packaging, delivery and your time.
Overhead (Fixed Cost)
Unlike the ingredients - a variable cost, overhead is a fixed cost which includes ongoing expenses that aren't directly linked to the creation of the product and doesn't increase incrementally with the production of each additional unit. They include electricity, rent, marketing, etc.
Most home bakers are just that, bakers working from home but some jurisdictions do not allow food sold to the public to be made at home. They must be made in commercial kitchens which require rent. If you're hoping to reach a larger market and sell at fairs and farmer's markets, this will require rental fees as well. If you're not working in a commercial facility, you should still take into account the electricity and the portion of your home that you are utilizing for your business. In Canada, self-employed people can take these items into account when they are filing their tax returns.
Damages (Variable cost)
While no customer should be "paying" you for the macarons that don't turn out and cannot be sold, this is something you will have to factor into your quotes for your clients. It goes without saying that you shouldn't be adding this as an itemized line in an invoice, but just be aware that mistakes do happen and you shouldn't be quoting such lean prices that when mistakes happen, you end up working at a loss.
Packaging (Variable Cost)
Packaging will increase the cost for the finished macaron product so it's important to consider how much to spend in this area. Most boxes usually hold about 6 macarons, even the plain ones cost around $1 per box and a dozen macarons cost around $3.79 to make, that's a big relative cost. If you have a bigger order that requires only 1 individual box, this will help cut down on the packaging costs. Here are some options for macaron boxes in the $1 - $1.60 price range: Simple 6 pc macaron box , 12 pc macaron box, 6 pc macaron box with protective separator.
Delivery (Variable Cost)
For those who are paying rent to sell at a fair or market, your rent is a clear overhead item on your income statement. In contrast, those baking from home should account for the time and possibly gas/public transportation costs involved in making a delivery or meetup with a client. Delivery or meetups should not be offered free unless you've built it into the quoted price. Remember, every moment you are not in your kitchen baking, it is costing you money. You can choose a flat rate delivery fee or offer free delivery after a certain purchase amount.
To further protect your precious time doing a task that only you are trained to do - baking macarons - you can consider delegating your friends or family members to take care of the deliveries or any other related task on your behalf. (Pay them or repay them with another favor, of course.)
This usually reveals itself as a hidden cost when dealing with special orders. It is only fair that your customers will have a lot of questions for you but the time you spend on emailing/calling back and forth to confirm delivery dates, order details, project changes etc, can drag down your efficiency. Make sure you have a clear project outline and terms and conditions page that you send to your clients from the beginning to minimize the time spent on frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions From Clients
- What are your prices?
- Is there a minimum order?
- Are there discounts on large orders?
- What colors can you do?
- What flavors do you offer?
- What type of designs can you do?
- Where is your portfolio of past work?
- What type of packaging do you offer?
- Do you have testimonials/references?
- When will my order be completed?
- What about delivery fees?
- Where are you willing to deliver to?
- When will you deliver?
- Set up fees/use of display units
- Cancellation policies
- Project change fees
Your Time (Variable Cost)
Finally, account for your time. I know this might be hard for some people to put a price to. You will need to really think about how much your time is worth to you. In the beginning, some bakers are happy just to get back their costs and have a little bit extra. This is fine if you don't intend to profit from macaron making, everyone has different goals. For those who want to consider macaron making a profitable endeavor, it's important to get back fair return for your hard work.
So what is your time worth? I would say at the minimum, you should see yourself working at the same minimum wage/hour for your region. Otherwise, why not just find a job that would pay the same. Your customers should understand this concept as well. If they try to pay you any less, they are not really supporting your business. In time as your reputation and your skills grow, you should look to increase your price. (Of course, you can charge more from the beginning if you are able to provide more value than your competitors. More on that later.) Google bakery jobs in your area and see how much bakery jobs are worth, that is another way to help you fairly assess what your time is worth.
Don't forget about opportunity costs as well. Every moment that you are doing one task it is taking you away from doing another. Really weigh out the opportunity cost of the macaron order. Is the few extra dollars worth taking that time away from spending it with those you love or working on another more worthwhile project? Even relaxing on the couch after a long week is good and much needed for your mind and body. That's why setting the correct price for you macarons is so important. Learn to provide more value to your customers and make use of economies of scale so you can confidently charge those premium prices as early as possible.
Track Your Time
To provide appropriate quotes, it's important to have an understanding of the time it takes you to make a batch of macarons and how that time increases when new elements are introduced.
Take the time to track how long it takes you to make:
- a single batch of macarons in one color, two colors and so on...
- a single batch of marcaron in a unique shape
- a single batch of macaron in a unique shape with additional colors
- new template creation
Ways to Provide More Value than the Competition
First, it should be noted that regardless of how much you may want to charge for your macarons, the price you set should still be influenced by the market conditions in your local area. If there is already established players in your area who are offering macarons at a certain price, the price that is acceptable for your clients will be somewhere around what is currently being offered. Without big purchasing power and economies of scale, it will always be an uphill battle for small businesses to compete on price alone. That is why it is very important that you provide value that your clients cannot find elsewhere.
Ways to Provide More Value as a Small Baking Business:
- One-on-one service:
No customer wants to be forgotten when they are hiring a business to provide a service for their special event. Bigger stores have more clients and usually can't provide as much individual attention. Make sure you have all your client's notes written down on their own individual project file. Learn about your client by making small talk and asking questions that are relevant to the project. "Will your guests enjoy..... Do you guests have any allergies.... What's a theme that would 'Wow' your friends?..."
Allowing your customers to customize their order will really help set you apart from the big players. Customization should be welcomed in the planning stages but make clear on your terms and conditions that once the details are finalized, changes will require a change fee.
- Delivery & Set Up:
Offer free delivery once a certain purchase amount has been met. Offer to deliver and set up if appropriate.
- Rental Displays:
The more attractive macarons, the more attention they will receive at a special event, further reconfirming your customer's choice of using your service and possibly exposing your work to a wider audience. If your budget allows, purchase a few pretty display units for displaying your macarons. Rent these out to your clients to use on their special day or offer free rental after a certain purchase amount. I found these pretty and very cost effective display units: White porcelain 3-tier tea tray is perfect for feminine tea party themes, Cascading 3-tier rectangular display has a modern appeal and is well suited for all types of themes, Pink cardboard 3-tier stand is economical enough to let the host keep without returning back to you. This will cut down on your travel costs.
Make note of your client's special days like birthdays and anniversaries on a calendar. Send them an e-greeting card, flowers or some extra goodies you're currently baking. This will make a lasting impact and your clients will be more apt to recommend you to their own friends and family.
- Support of local industry and sustainability:
Whenever possible try to source local products and work with local vendors. Supporting your local industry creates a mutually beneficial relationship. Local vendors have their own client base and you'll be on their radar when customers ask them for recommendations. And it's just a good thing to do in this special time in the world, we have to rely on each other in our local trade area in order to cut down on the environmental impacts (shipping, non-compliance with environmental regulations) of outsourcing production to other countries. There is an ever-growing number of customers who are choosing to support local companies that make a deliberate choice to leave the world a better place while conducting their commercial activities.
Cheap Prices Attract Cheap Clients
The takeaway from the last few paragraphs is to not undersell yourself. You should never try to make low price your value proposition. One of the most valuable mantras I found in one of my marketing textbooks was, "Cheap prices attract cheap clients." Okay, I should make clear that there is nothing wrong with bargain shoppers. Everyone, including me, loves a good deal and a good customer should always be respected and cherished. However, extreme bargain shoppers should not be your customers.
Customers who put price ahead of everything else will always be on the lookout for the lowest price, making you easily replaceable in their eyes. They are unable to see how you bring value to them in the different ways I've outlined above.
At the end of the day, it may become demotivating for you to work for minimal monetary return while being underappreciated at the same time. Of course, this doesn't apply to someone who appreciates you and your work, who are willing but unable to pay. Use your discretion. You can always make exceptions and adjust your pricing for customers with extenuating circumstances.
In general, avoid setting your prices too low or discounting too often. You don't want to gain new customers only to lose them when you finally decide to increase your prices. Regardless of whether or not it's fair, sometimes customers view price increases as a betrayal of their loyalty to your business. Try to set a price that will be sustainable for your business in the long run from the very beginning.
So How Much Should I Charge for My Macarons?
First off, for those who are taking orders I can't stress enough the importance of a minimum order. Don't think so much of how much you should charge per macaron but how much you should charge per order and you will need to set a minimum amount for this. I once had a request for 5 macarons, each one bearing the resemblance of a different animated character. GASP! I know, all you macaron bakers out there must be in shock. The time it would take to prepare all the different colored batters to pipe 5 different characters requiring 5 different templates... it's doable but more as a passion project. Making only five would take so long that the price would be unjustifiable to a customer.
The moral of the story is to set a minimum quantity per color, per flavour, per design, per order. Per color because each new color will require the creation of a "new" batter and this takes time. In addition, each new color/batter adds another element of "risk" to the success of the macaron's development. Per flavour because it requires time and supplies (piping bags etc.) to create each new flavour. Per design because each new design requires a new template to be made. Per order because your time, supplies and ingredients should be accounted for. We'll talk more about that below.
Minimum Charge For Your Time and Fixed Costs
I highly recommend setting up a minimum charge for each order. A retail store operation has the ability to spread out their fixed costs among many walk-in customers so they have the ability to sell macarons by piece. For a home operation, you will need to account for the minimum amount of ingredients (e.g. a dozen eggs, a package of almond flour) you'll need to buy and the time you will need to invest to get an order started. If a customer requests a special flavor that you don't already have the ingredients for, you will need to buy a minimum amount of it and you might not be able to break even let alone profit by making small quantities of that particular flavour. Let's go over how economies of scale will help you.
Economies of Scale
It's important to take advantage of economies of scale to help you recoup your costs and make a profit. Economies of scale is a term used in economics to describe the cost advantages that occur when the scale of the operation is increased. For example, variable costs (ex. ingredients) is directly linked to the production of each macaron and this cost per unit increases with every extra macaron you make. More macarons = more ingredients = more variable costs.
On the other hand, your fixed costs (ex. table rent, facebook ads) per unit decreases with each additional unit you make because you pay the same rent and marketing costs no matter how many macarons you make. These fixed costs can be spread among a larger quantity of macarons, resulting in each unit being less expensive to produce.
Ways to Take Advantage of Economies of Scale:
- Bake all your orders in one day.
Cleanup and pre-heating your oven to just the right temperature takes time so it's more efficient to do all your baking in one day instead of spread out. If it takes half an hour to clean up each time and you end up baking on 4 separate days, that's 2 hours of cleanup instead of a half hour. Time equals money. You can freeze a fully assembled macaron or the shells by itself until you are ready to deliver or assemble them. READ: How to freeze macarons and make in advance.
- Do one task at a time to maximize efficiency.
Just like workers in an efficient assembly plant, one worker is usually in charge of just one step in the assembly of the complete unit. This helps each worker stay focused and proficient doing that one vital step. In your case, you are probably working alone in your home kitchen, completing every assembly step by yourself. But if you have multiple orders, it is still more efficient for you to bake, fill and package your macarons all together as a big batch. This will cut down on cleanup, oven pre-heat time, piping bags etc.
- Schedule deliveries on the same day.
If possible, try to schedule non-event related deliveries on the same day to save gas/public transportation costs. Don't forget about the time you need to get ready each time you leave the house too.
- Buy in bulk
Once you have enough orders. Consider buying your essential ingredients in bulk: sugar, eggs and almonds. In most case, making almond flour yourself will be cheaper and provide more consistent results. READ: How to Make Your Own Almond Flour for Macarons. Watch that you don't overspend for rarely used ingredients. Exotic flavorings might not get used as often and might even expire before you can recoup the costs for them. If you do need to buy them, buy a smaller quantity first, it will cost you less upfront. Later on, if that flavor becomes a best-seller, you can choose to buy more based on how well it does.
- Prepare in advance
Make as many elements as you can in advance. This will improve efficiency and save you time if anything unexpected happens before a big order. What can be done in advance? Portioning out dry ingredients, making almond flour and sifting it, sculpting fondant elements, pre-building macaron boxes, writing out thank you cards etc. Sculpted fondant elements can be made in advance and remains soft and pliable if sealed with this product.
- Offer "discounts" to clients using portfolio designs
If a design requested by a client requires the creation of a new macaron template, the cost should be accounted for. You can charge a template creation fee for this. Customers who request designs that you've already made before won't incur this fee. You'll see cost savings in remaking old designs as you already know the best way to execute them and can foresee problem areas in advance. You can download my macaron templates for free here once you become a newsletter subscriber.
- Make multiple colors from one batch of macaron batter. This tutorial on how to make different colored macaron batter is very helpful for when you start making multi-colored macarons and character macarons.
- Different ways to save time and money
For more tips, I wrote another post about how to save time and money while making macarons.
How to Set the Price for Homemade Macarons
To summarize, the price for your homemade macarons should:
- Have a minimum charge per order
- Will cover 100% of your variable expenses (ex. ingredients & packaging)
- Will cover some of your fixed expenses (ex. table rent, marketing). This percentage will depend on how many orders you make in your total operation and what retail price your local market will bear.
- Should ideally give you an hourly wage equal to at least the minimum wage in your local area. (You have to work at a realistic pace though).
Cost Profit Analysis of a Sample Order
Regular Round Macarons: $2.50/pc.
Minimum order: 24 pc.
12 pc. minimum per color
Packaged in 1 big box
Delivery Fee: $8
Total Revenue: $60
Cost of Goods Sold: $6.28 (Ingredients: $5.28 + Box: $1)
GROSS Profit: $53.72 This is gross profit only (not net profit). It accounts for the profit after deducting revenue minus cost of goods sold. Don't forget, there are other operating costs like rent, gas, marketing and your labor. Without taking the operating costs into equation, let's look at how much this gross profit works out to be for each hour of work. If it takes you 3 hours to complete this order, you would have effectively made $17.90/hour ($53.72/3 hours). This should account for your grocery shopping time, delivery, baking, packaging, communicating with client etc. There's a lot to be done. That's why taking advantage of economies of scale and setting minimum orders are so important.
Suggested Macaron Pricing and Minimum Order for Special Requests:
- Minimum order: $100-$200
- Minimum pieces per color: 1 dozen
- Minimum pieces per design: 1 dozen
- Minimum pieces per flavor: 1 dozen
- Template creation fee for new designs: $20
- Template creation fee is waived if working with designs from portfolio.
- Regular round macarons: $2.50 - $2.75
- Macaron Art (unique designs): $3.50+ one color, additional $.50-$1 for each additional color added onto design (this works out to be $6-$12 for creating a second batter in another color.
- Macarons individually wrapped in plastic bags: add $.25-$.50 / pc
- Macarons with lollipop sticks inserted: add $.25-$.50 / pc
These are suggested pricing and what you can command will depend on the competition in your area and your skill level. These prices are at the lower end of the spectrum, as your skills increase and you can offer more value to your clients, prices beyond these are justified considering how much labor is involved.
Selling Macarons Without Taking Orders
We talked a lot about taking orders and setting up minimums but you can also consider making macarons in bulk and selling them after the fact to anyone who is interested. You can be more relaxed with the minimums in these situations if you have enough clients to disperse your fixed costs and the cost of your labor among. Making big batches of different flavours and freezing them until it will be delivered to clients will help you offer a variety of flavors and colors to your customers without having to set up minimum spend rules.
Last Minute Orders
We all know life happens and sometimes we can't be as prepared as we'd like and we end up ordering things last minute. While it is easy for bakeries to keep baked goods in the store for last minute walk-in customers, home bakers don't have the scale of operation to provide the same service. A lot of planning and communication has to happen for each order. Be very careful when taking last minute orders. Even if you are not particularly busy during that stretch of time, you'll need to take into account that you'll have less time to fix things if anything goes wrong or you might have to make special trips to the grocery store just to buy certain ingredients. And because it may be the only order at the time, you are not taking advantage of economies of scale. For these reasons, you should always consider charging extra for last minute orders, even if you feel like you have the "free" time to do it.
How Much Should I Charge Friends and Family?
I believe that in a majority of cases, the number one reason why your friends and family want to order baked goods from you is because they want to support you and your business. Already having a good rapport with you, making you easier to work with and appreciation of your talent probably ties for second. Notice how none of those top reasons are related to the price of your macarons. Therefore, I don't think you need to worry so much about giving out discounts that hurt your bottom line.
For people you know well, you should always show extra special appreciation that they chose to support you and your business. This doesn't always have to translate into discounts. You know your loved ones well so use your judgement. Your older aunt who has done well for herself in life won't be expecting a discount from you (and may even be insulted) but she would probably really appreciate that extra dozen macarons in her favorite color that you whipped up just for her. Giving something extra on top of charging your regular prices will usually cost you less (due to economies of scale) and make more of a meaningful impact to the receiver.
If you do want to go the discount route for loved ones who would more appreciate it, make sure you have already set a discount level that you are comfortable with. Tell them, "This is my friends and family rate", be it 10%, 20% etc. off your usual rate.
Ways to Go Above and Beyond Without Discounting:
- Extra product
Make extra macarons each time you bake and keep them frozen for complimentary samples in the future. If you are particularly time crunched but want to do something special, you can re-use these pre-made macarons but add extra details on them tailored to the receiver. Tip: adding extra details is easy with pre-made fondant. I like that these packages come in small packages because fondant dries out after a while and will be wasted if not fully utilized.
- Free delivery & use of display units
Offer free delivery, setup and use of display units.
- Packaging/free greeting cards
Offer special gift wrapping and free mini gift cards for orders purchased to celebrate special occasions. This will help elevate your product and provide value to your customer at the same time. This laser cut pink favors box is so elegant and pretty for packaging a pair of macarons as bridal or baby shower favors. You can provide free gift cards like these ones in the 140 gift mini gift card set, it is so economical and attractive. There's a rainbow of colors included so it will work with any project.
- Gift card for future use
Offer a free gift card for use on a future order. I recommend not requiring a certain sales amount to be met for it to be used as that is not truly "free" and takes away from the spirit of giving.
- Free gift from a colleague in another industry
Partner up with another local company and swap goods/services to offer to your own clients. Perhaps your customer may not need extra macarons but might really enjoy receiving a free scented candle instead. This strategy will make your own clients feel appreciated while exposing your product to new clients and requires little out of pocket costs for you.
Working for "Exposure"
With the advent of social media, working for exposure has become a very common request from organizations big and small. While it may sound like a good exchange at first because you're just starting out and relatively unknown, you really have to weigh how much you stand to gain from the experience. Smaller brands that ask for free goods usually have a smaller audience base so it might not turn out to be the amount of exposure you're expecting while bigger brands... they really ought to have the spirit and budget to pay hardworking people for their services.
As long as you feel like you are gaining something in the process and won't cost you too much in opportunity costs, it might be worth it. Sometimes you do need to give a little more in the beginning in order to put your brand out there but it shouldn't become something you will resent doing.
Working with like-minded people from different industries in a collaborative project is a great way to work for exposure (ex. wedding photo shoot). You will build great connections, learn more about the local business community and perhaps make a new friend. Something like that sounds like a win to me. Additionally, making free goods for local charity events and non-profits are always a good idea even without the return of exposure. You can practice your skills and most importantly, do some good for your community.
I hope this post was helpful. Just by the fact that you are here means that you are curious about turning your hobby into a business and every journey begins with a single step. I wish you the best of luck ahead 🙂