Michael Farms seeks to add value

06/02/2011 01:34:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

URBANA, Ohio — Producing the greatest yields for the lowest possible cost is only half the battle to survive, Todd Michael believes.

“The old mentality was to try to produce as efficiently as you can and sell it for what you can get at the time,” said Michael, vice president of Urbana, Ohio-based Michael Farms.

The other part of the equation now involves packaging and versatility.

Michael Farms is getting into some value-added packaging, Michael said, in addition to offering year-round potato packing to the firm’s customers.

The company is shifting towards working with customers to find solutions that work for them.

For example, Michael said, the firm is working to get into tray-packed sweet corn this year in response to customer requests.

Michael Farms already has steamable bags for multiple potato varieties, in addition to individual shrink-wrapped potatoes on tray packs and foil wraps of selected baking potatoes. The firm also is providing private-label produce to several retailers.

The company will harvest cabbage, green beans, sweet corn, and potatoes this year, Michael said. With total acreage expected up slightly, the third-generation farming company expects to harvest cabbage at the end of June and continue through October. Green beans should begin about the first week of July, and the sweet corn harvest is expected to start about the second week of July.

The firm’s Ohio acreage should hover around 450 acres of potatoes and 100 acres of cabbage, while sweet corn and green beans will feature acreage of close to 800 acres each.

While the first plantings were on time, Michael said rains prevented some later planting activity.

Potatoes will start in mid-July, Michael said, consisting primarily of round whites, red and yellow potatoes in Ohio.

Michael Farms packs 12 months a year and partners with a growing shipping operation in southern Michigan to source russet potatoes, he added.



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