Marketing Case Study-Stahlbush Island Farms

Stahlbush Island Farms-"A Fully Sustainable Farm Like No Other"

"We are an environmentally friendly farm and food processor committed to sustainable agriculture". (SIF Instagram)

Stahlbush Island Farms was established in 1985, when newlyweds, Bill and Karla Chambers started growing sugar beets and wheat.  They started out with only about 300 acres in Corvallis Oregon.  Today they cultivate 5,000 acres in Oregon.  Back in the 1980's, they got their start selling to baby food companies and in the Japanese market.  Now they are known for over 30 IQF fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, canned purees and pet food.  Because they farm, process and immediately freeze the product themselves it allows them to leave their product in the field or on the vine until it is perfectly ripe.  Food safety is very important to SIF as well.  They currently scored a 97 on the most rigorous food safety audit in the industry. In January 2013, at the annual Celebrate Corvallis event held by the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, Stahlbush Island Farms was named "Business of the Year".

In addition to running the farm, co-owner Karla Chambers is also a professional artist.  She designs all of the artwork for their biodegradable packaging.  Her style is very colorful and, unlike the old packaging, adds a personal touch to the product that SIF is selling.  To me that shows great marketing.  The environmentally friendly freezer bags were also created by Stalbush but they intentionally did not patent the idea so other companies could hopefully follow their lead.

Old Packaging
Karla's New Design
Stahlbush Island Farms is all about sustainability.  They are certified sustainable.  At Stahlbush Island Farms they believe that sustainability is innovation. They take great pride in what they do and the steps they take to provide the freshest product while producing no waste. "There is no such thing as waste, only underutilized resources," said owner, Bill Chambers.

One example of this is they use the digestate from their biogas plant to act as an organic fertilizer and naturally increase the microbial activity and overall soil health.  Digestate is the material remaining after the anaerobic digestion of the biodegradable feed stock.  Stahlbush is a GMO free farm.  Also, they have drip irrigation for their berries and all irrigation is automatically controlled to give each plant just the right amount for what they need.  Stahlbush Island Farms was the first farm ever to be certified sustainable by the Food Alliance back in 1997. 

On June 2nd, 2009, SIF was the first to be able to claim energy independence when it built the first biogas plant in North America that generates electricity using agricultural by-product, such as corn husks and cobs.  They generate enough electricity to power the entire processing plant.  They also generate enough steam to run their boilers and provide hot water for sanitation and hot air to dry their pumpkin seeds. 

Each month the biogas plant produces twice as much energy as they need to run their entire operation which they sell back to the grid.  It is enough electricity to power 1,100 homes!!  The biogas plant has helped them to create a "closed group" system on the farm.  They are using veggies to power veggies-the "full circle".  Stahlbush Island Farms received the "Sustainable Plant of the Year" Award in November 2012.  They earned the award because of their biogas system and holistic approach to food production.

In my opinion, Stahlbush Valley Farms is doing a great job with its marketing as far as its packaging is concerned.  By switching from the bland and extremely boring original packaging to the brightly colored package that Karla, co-owner, designed herself as a professional artist, I think it not only catches the eye much better but also it places a direct personal touch to SIF and their family grown food.  Also, there biodegradable freezer bags will definitely appeal to a lot of buyers because it just reinforces their value proposition of being a fully sustainable and environmentally conscience family run farm like no other.

Currently you can buy their products either online or in one of 20 stores located in Corvallis, Salem, Eugene/Springfield, Veneeta and Newport.  It does not look like they have come on the market in Portland.  I think it would be a great marketing plan to get their product in stores in Portland and other Oregon markets.  I believe that their mission of sustainability will ring true with a large population in Portland and other environmentally conscience cities. 


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