Iota, LA-based Garber Farms launched its new website four months ago. “It is there mainly for general information, but we’re enjoying the responses that we’re getting to it,” said Matthew Garber, a company partner. “There is a video on the site that we had some fun creating and filming.”
Set to some real “down-home, Louisiana-style” music, the video takes viewers through Garber Farms’ operation, from the field to harvesting, storage, sorting, packing and sales.
The Garber family is involved in all aspects of the business. Michael Garber manages the farm crop production. Matthew Garber manages the storage, packaging and marketing of sweet potatoes and other crops. Wayne Garber deals with the day-to-day administrative management of the business. The three men represent three generations of Garber family members.
“We have been growing grains and vegetables in south Louisiana since 1881,” he said. “Our farm is located on a sandy ridge between Bayou Nezpique and Bayou Des Cannes in the heart of south Louisiana’s Cajun country.
“Our farm consists of 5,000 acres of land with sweet potatoes, rice, soy beans and grain sorghum being grown in rotation,” he continued. “The rich soil in our location promotes the production of a smoother, cleaner and brighter skin sweet potato, more superior in its eye appeal than those produced in other areas.”
This year’s crop at Garber Farms is great in both volumes and quality. Mr. Garber said that it has enough stored sweet potatoes to fulfill the demand through the 2013 harvest.
He believes that sweet potato prices are remaining on the soft side because too much sweet potato acreage being planted.
“A lot of new acreage has come on that is satiating the processing side,” he explained. “It is confusing, however, when you think that a company like Burger King having sweet potato fries on its menu at thousands of locations in the country has to be eating up a lot of sweet potatoes — and that is just one of the many major chain restaurants that have made sweet potatoes a permanent menu item. This is a clear indication that there is overproduction, but it’s happening in places like the Carolinas — it’s certainly not happening here in Louisiana.”
The company continues to increase its cold-storage capacity, upgrade its storage area computer controls and make other facility and field improvements. With more than 130 years of farming experience, and being operated by highly educated family members, they know that the key to success is staying on the cutting edge. Its food-safety and traceability initiatives are all in place, and a staff member follows up on every detail of newly issued food-safety information.
“The three-pound bag of sweet potatoes continues to grow in demand,” said Mr. Garber. “That is a good indication that consumers want sweet potatoes in their kitchens all the time — not just during the holidays. The demand for bulk also continues to be strong. Shrink-wrapped microwavable sweet potatoes are a staple today. We’ve been offering them since they were first introduced many years ago, and it’s a steady and strong item.”