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Strohauer responds to market upticks with growth on all fronts

LASALLE, CO — In answer to increased demand for organic potatoes and onions, Strohauer Farms in LaSalle, CO, has increased acreage for those commodities at the same time it expands its specialty line and conventional production.

And, as he prepared for harvest at his northern Colorado family-run operation, owner Harry Strohauer told The Produce News that the farm also is taking a proactive stance in marketing and promotion — exhibiting for the first time at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention and trade show this October in Atlanta and attending Expo East/All Things Organic this September in Baltimore.

The exposure is part of Strohauer Farms’ move to expand in both retail and foodservice market segments with the multiple-commodity line.

A cooler planting season has some items coming in slightly later than normal, and Mr. Strohauer said June 28, “We are estimating right now that our conventional Yukon Gold and russet potatoes will begin shipping the week of August 1.”

All conventional fingerlings except Purple Peruvians are expected to start the week of Aug. 15, and organic fingerlings should start the week of Aug. 22.

Mr. Strohauer said that organic Yukons and russets should start the week of Aug. 29, followed by conventional Purple Peruvian and his line of specialty onions the week of Sept. 19.

Organic Purple Peruvian fingerlings should start shipping the week of Sept. 26.

The potato line now is made up of conventional and organic russets, Yukon Golds, Banana fingerlings, Rose Finn and Ruby Crescent fingerlings, French fingerlings and the Purple Peruvian. Specialty onions from Strohauer Farms are organic and conventional white, red and gold pearls, boilers, cipollinis and shallots.

“This year we slightly increased acreage in both potatoes and onions due to market demand,” Mr. Strohauer said. The packingshed is also seeing expansion.

“We are installing additional equipment to streamline our bulk shipping process,” he said. “This year we are anticipating an increase in bulk shipping, and so we are working on expediting loading time.”

Mr. Strohauer went on to say, “In addition to the packingshed upgrades, we are adding a sizing and sorting line for the specialty onions and shallots. As we continue to expand and focus on specialties, our goal is to be a one-stop shop for both organics and conventionals.”

Traceability and food safety remain top priorities, and Mr. Strohauer said, “Strohauer Farms is moving forward to have a traceback program in place this season. As for food safety, we are organically, GAP and GHP certified.”

New packaging will be rolled out this season as well, according to Marketing Director Tanya Fell.

“We are now redesigning our ‘Rocky Mountain Gourmet’ packaging for fingerling potatoes,” Ms. Fell said. “We have updated the health data and have included handling information as well as easy-to-prepare recipes.”

A new label is being designed and will be used in addition to “Rocky Mountain Gourmet” and “Nature’s Peak” for potatoes and “Rocky Mountain Pure” for the specialty onions, she said.

One issue that has loomed particularly large in past years is not as much a threat this season, according to Mr. Strohauer.

“Due to the increased snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, the water outlook for this season looks good,” he said, but other economical factors continue to take their toll on family farming.

“Our production expenses have increased significantly this year due to ramping up our psyllid control,” he said. “Fuel, fertilizer, chemical costs have all increased which impacts our operation.”