Although it is the newest grower-packer-shipper of premium potatoes in Washington’s Skagit Valley, Sterling Hill Farms hit the ground running this year. Partners Norm Nelson Jr., Jim Nelson and Tony Wisdom opened their doors for business on March 1. The vertically integrated company, headquartered in Burlington, WA, grows, packs, ships and markets premium-quality conventional reds, yellows and whites.
“We dabble in specialty varieties and fingerlings,” Wisdom added. He said the three partners have a combined 75 years of potato growing, packing and shipping experience. “We are very proud of our 100 percent score on Primus food-safety audit for the packing facility and perfect score on our GlobalGAP field audits, which offer customers comfort about our processes and products as they are direct from the source. Huge success and kudos to the food-safety team.”
In addition to its domestic sales, Sterling Hill Farms is initiating product sales offshore.
“We are on track with our marketing plan,” Wisdom told The Produce News. “We plan on having Sterling premium fresh potatoes through the winter and early spring, and we’ll finish up shipping our product around the middle of May. Quality is just fantastic. Color is exceptional, and skin finish is very smooth and glossy. Customers are reporting increased sales and less shrink at the retail level.”
Sterling Hill finished shipping its premium white potatoes at the beginning of December. “We are now shipping premium red and premium yellow potatoes only,” Wisdom said. The company typically moves half of this volume by January.
The company’s newest retail offerings are Artisan Red potatoes in five-pound and 10-pound poly-mesh combo bags and Artisan Gold potatoes in five-pound bags. “The bag features farm history, fantastic recipe ideas and UV protective filming to reduce greening on potatoes,” Wisdom stated. “Packaging is beautiful and could be assisting in product sales lift in these categories.”
Marketing activity will incorporate social media. “We always ask people to check us out on Facebook and to visit our web page,” Wisdom said. “And we just think that we have a pretty great group of team members who go to great lengths with us to provide our customers with exactly what they desire and deserve.”