Why Is Quinoa So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

Selective focus of white quinoa in wooden bowl


Quinoa is a great staple to any pantry and is loved by those who are looking for an alternative to rice.

As a healthy addition to many meals, some people are left wondering why quinoa is so expensive when compared to other options.

Let’s talk about quinoa and discuss ten reasons it is so expensive.


Why Is Quinoa So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)


1. Costly To Grow

Quinoa plantations in Chimborazo, Ecuador


Quinoa is not an inexpensive crop for farmers to grow.

It requires some added attention and cost in order to properly grow it for consumers.

With the more extensive growing process and needing to be properly cared for under specific conditions, it does cost more to grow than other crops.

This has led to an increase in prices because of the time and effort that is needed.


2. High Nutritional Content

Quinoa Salad


One of the main reasons that quinoa is expensive is that it packs a punch when it comes to nutritional content.

There are many key components that make it a nutritional powerhouse.

Quinoa has a good source of plant-based protein with approximately 185 grams (about 6.5 ounces) of cooked quinoa carrying 8.14 grams of protein.

The type of protein that quinoa provides is also unique as it contains several important amino acids.

Fiber is another part of what makes quinoa a great addition to your diet.

The fiber in quinoa is beneficial for improving gastrointestinal problems as well as lowering cholesterol.

Along with protein and fiber, quinoa is a great source of minerals and antioxidants as well, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a superfood.

It has good levels of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and many B vitamins.

Vitamin E is one of the major antioxidants found in quinoa and can help with reducing the risk of heart disease.


3. Increased Demand

MIxed Quinoa


In recent years, as more people are beginning to take a vested interest in their health and eating foods that are good for them, the demand for quinoa has drastically increased.

Many people have discovered the versatility of quinoa and how easy it is to add to many dishes and more people are buying it than ever before.

With the increased demand, it has been hard for farmers to keep the supply high enough.

This has then led to increased prices.

Farmers are working around the clock to try to supply enough quinoa to keep up with the demand, but they are finding it to be a challenge at times which has led to the increase in prices.


4. Great Gluten-Free Option

gluten free word with wood background


In recent years, many people have been found to have gluten allergies or intolerances.

When transitioning to eating gluten free, it can be hard to find alternatives to your favorite foods.

Quinoa is a great gluten-free grain option if you are trying to substitute something such as couscous or rice pilaf.

Some people may even use quinoa as a substitute for certain pasta dishes as you can easily add pasta sauce on top of quinoa.

Quinoa provides the same type of food without the worry of having a negative reaction from consuming gluten.


5. Versatility

Cooked and uncooked quinoa


Quinoa is almost virtually tasteless when cooked on its own.

This means that it is highly versatile and can be used for a wide variety of dishes and types of food.

Because of this, quinoa farmers and suppliers are able to charge more.

Many people will cook quinoa in place of rice for a wide range of dishes, and it can be seasoned accordingly.

Quinoa is used in Mexican dishes, Indian dishes, curries, salads, soups, and bowls.

The quinoa will take on the flavor of anything you season it with or any sauce you add to it.

This can make it a great option for kids who may not particularly love healthier food options as quinoa provides nutritional benefits while taking on the flavor of the dish it is cooked in.


6. Long Growing Process

The colorful Quinoa tree in the farm


The length of time it takes to grow quinoa is approximately 90 to 120 days.

This longer process of growth means that the price has increased.

Farmers cannot turn over crops of quinoa as quickly as other foods.

When foods can be grown and harvested very quickly, farmers can afford to charge lower prices because they can grow the food fast and keep up with demand.

Quinoa is a food that takes a much longer time and therefore calls for a higher price tag.


7. Demanding Growing Conditions

Raw White Quinoa Grains


Quinoa requires very specific conditions in order to grow properly and thrive.

It must be grown in full sun and soil temperatures will ideally be 65 to 75 degrees.

It does not tolerate cold temperatures or frost well at all, so if it is grown in an area with colder temperatures, it is best to be grown in the spring once the weather and soil warm up.

Overly cold temperatures can cause a quinoa plant to die.

Because quinoa can be a more particular plant than others and is not as hardy, it requires more time and attention.

This means that farmers have to pay employees more to care for the quinoa.


8. Cooks Larger Quantity

Cooked White Quinoa in Rustic Bowl


A cup of dry quinoa makes approximately for cups of cooked quinoa.

This is slightly more than a cup of dry rice which makes approximately three cups of cooked rice.

The fact that the dry quinoa produces more when cooked may also be leading to the higher cost of quinoa.

You are getting more for your money with quinoa.

Quinoa can also be easily stored in the refrigerator if you cook a larger amount and want to save it for later.

It can be a great food to cook large batches of and meal prep for the week ahead.


9. Export Costs

Shore crane lifts container during cargo operation in port


A large majority of quinoa is grown in South America.

This means that for the United States to get that quinoa, the other countries are having to export the quinoa.

Export and import costs can be quite expensive, so the export costs have to be taken into account when pricing quinoa.

There are locations in the United States that grow quinoa, so it is not always exported to the United States by other countries, but a great majority of quinoa is grown outside of the country.


10. Easy To Cook

Quinoa Salad


Aside from all of the other benefits of quinoa, it is simple to cook.

To cook quinoa, all you need to do is measure out the amount of dry quinoa that you want to cook and pour it into the proper amount of water.

Once it reaches a boil, you will remove it from the heat and cover it for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

At this point, your quinoa will be cooked and ready to eat.

You will be able to tell that your quinoa is completely cooked because it will be soft and fluffy when touched with a fork.

All water should be absorbed by the quinoa seeds before serving.


Where Is Quinoa Grown?

Quinoa crop grows at farm, quinoa seed head


Although quinoa is grown in many areas of the world, it has been commonly grown in the Andes of South America.

This may not be a place where many would think quinoa would thrive, but this area grows 117 million pounds of quinoa per year.

The areas that mainly grow quinoa are Peru and Bolivia with Ecuador, Columbia, and Argentina coming in closely behind.

There are some places within the United States that grow quinoa, but a large majority of the world’s quinoa is grown in South America.


Is Quinoa Better For You Than Rice?

Bowl of boiled rice


Quinoa is used as a replacement for rice in many recipes and that has led to many people comparing the nutritional value of quinoa compared to rice.

When comparing quinoa to white rice, quinoa does have a better nutritional profile.

Quinoa is lower on the glycemic index than white rice, which many people will prefer as it will not significantly increase your blood sugar level.

If you look at a cup of quinoa compared to a cup of white rice, quinoa has twice the amount of protein and approximately five grams more fiber than white rice does.

Quinoa also has fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice if that is of concern to you.

Many people will alternate the use of rice and quinoa and use each as desired depending on the dish or food that is being cooked.


What Is Royal Quinoa?

Royal red quinoa


Royal quinoa is slightly different from the normal quinoa that you most likely buy at the grocery store.

The Royal type of quinoa is the highest quality of quinoa that you can purchase.

It is larger than typical quinoa, has a nuttier flavor, and when cooked, it will have a fluffier texture.

If you are wanting to purchase royal quinoa, you may need to go to a specialty grocery store in order to find it or purchase it directly online.

It is rarer than purchasing standard quinoa, and many stores will not carry royal quinoa.


Can You Grow Quinoa At Home?

Gardening tools and plants


Yes, you can grow quinoa at home.

There are certain conditions that quinoa must be grown in so you can successfully grow the plant and be able to harvest the quinoa from it.

Quinoa is best grown in summer in loamy well-draining soil.

The pH of the soil should ideally be between 6.0 and 7.5.

It is best to grow quinoa in a flowerbed versus trying to grow it in a container.

If possible plant quinoa in an area where it will get abundant sunlight.

It will take approximately 90 to 120 days to grow quinoa before it is ready to harvest.

You will know it is ready to harvest when the leaves fall off and you are left with the dried seed heads.

It is easy to harvest because you can just strip the seeds upwards towards the stalk.

This will easily dislodge them and allow you to utilize the seeds.

Once you have dislodged and harvested the quinoa seeds, you can store them or cook them immediately if you plan to use them.

Quinoa can be stored uncooked for approximately two to three years before it begins to go bad.


What Is Quinoa Used In Place Of?

Close up of pearl barley in a ceramic dish


Quinoa can be a great substitute for many other grains and cereals.

Many people will use quinoa in place of foods such as rice, couscous, and barley.

For someone who is needing something gluten free and wanting a nutritious option, quinoa works great in place of any of these grains.

It can also be used in place of pasta if desired.

It does not give the same texture as pasta, but some people prefer to use quinoa instead.


How Long Does It Take Quinoa To Cook?

Portion of Quinoa


Quinoa takes approximately 20 minutes to cook if you cook it the standard way on the stovetop.

You will need to add your dry quinoa to water and let that water boil before you can remove it from the stovetop and let it sit for approximately 15 minutes.

The exact amount of time to cook the quinoa may vary depending on how long it takes your stovetop to bring water to a boil.


What Are The Different Ways To Cook Quinoa?

Cooked quinoa with chickpeas


Quinoa is known to be extremely versatile and can be used in many different dishes.

There are several different ways that quinoa can be cooked and consumed depending on what you feel like cooking.


1. Oatmeal

Quinoa can be used in place of oats for oatmeal if you want to make a warm and comforting breakfast dish out of it.

You will cook the quinoa as normal, but instead of water, you can use your choice of milk.

Once it is cooked, you can add the traditional fruit toppings and whatever else you might consider adding to your oatmeal.


2. Smoothies

Quinoa can be blended into smoothies if you want the added nutrients but do not want to add it into a dish or have to season it.

Because the quinoa does not have much flavor, it will be easily disguised by the fruit that you add to your smoothie.

By blending quinoa into a smoothie, you will get an added boost of your protein that will help keep you full throughout the day.


3. Homemade Granola Bars

You can create your own homemade granola or energy bars or bites and add quinoa to them for the added nutrients and protein.

Quinoa can be easily added in with other fruits, nuts, and chocolate, as well as added maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness.


4. Added Into Desserts

Quinoa can easily be added to cookies, cupcakes, and puddings for extra nutrients in your favorite sweet treat.

You can pre-cook the quinoa so it is soft and then sprinkle it in when you go to bake your dessert.

It will be easily hidden in the dessert, and the sweetness and taste of the ingredients will take over the quinoa.


Is Quinoa Good For Losing Weight?

Slim woman measuring her thin waist


Many people who are trying to lose weight will be looking at everything they are consuming and trying to find healthy alternatives to some of their favorite foods that may not be as healthy.

When it comes to quinoa and losing weight, quinoa is a great addition to any diet including someone who may be trying to lose weight.

Quinoa is an insoluble fiber which means that it will increase the feeling of fullness.

This good amount of dietary fiber and protein will also help to contribute to a faster metabolism and this can potentially assist in weight loss.


Is Quinoa Okay To Eat While On The Keto Diet?

Man holding tablet with meal plan of Keto or Ketogenic diet


Quinoa is very nutritious and healthy for your body overall, but it should be avoided if you are on a low-carb or keto diet.

Many people try to eat very minimal carbohydrates while on the keto diet, but a cup of cooked quinoa holds approximately 39 grams of carbohydrates which may exceed what most people are wanting to consume.



Quinoa is a versatile, nutritious, and highly sought-after food which makes it easy to justify the price.

Although the cost of quinoa may seem expensive for some, it is worthwhile for those who are looking for a gluten-free and healthy addition to their diet.

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