Sweet potatoes marketing business updates

03/19/2014 03:12:00 PM
Jim Offner

Burch Farms

Faison, N.C.-based sweet potato grower-shipper Burch Farms, which grows on about 1,500 acres, is planning to up its acreage by about 10% in 2014, said Jimmy Burch, owner.

There are other changes planned, too, Burch said.

“We put in another new optical sorter — it takes a picture of it and takes out the defects,” he said.

The company also installed new baggers from Vidalia, Ga.-based Giro Pack Inc. in time for the 2013 September-October harvest, Burch said.

California Sweet Potato Council

The Livingston-based California Sweet Potato Council launched a website, www.casweetpotatoes.com, in December, said Sarah Alvernaz, a member of the council’s board and general manager of grower-shipper California Sweet Potato Growers in Livingston.

It’s part of an effort by the council to engage in consumer marketing activity “for the first time in a while,” Alvernaz said.

The council has gotten some guidance in the effort from the San Francisco office of global public relations firm Ketcham West, Alvernaz said.

“We wanted to basically get a fresh look and new foundation for our consumer marketing, so we created a new council logo and website and established our social media presence through Facebook and Pinterest,” Alvernaz said.

The council’s web activity was “minimal” before, Alvernaz said.

“We were on it but it was kind of one of those things that was just there and our investment was kind of minimal,” she said.

Now, that has changed, she said.

“We’re wanting to point out why, for example, you’d want to pay a little more for a California sweet potato, with a better skin and cleaner shape,” she said “It’s not to detract from any demand from any other state, but from a trade perspective, with California sweet potatoes, there is a significant difference to what’s grown back East.”

The council also is stepping up marketing in other areas, said Jason Tucker, a council member.

It’s about showcasing uniqueness, he said.

“California’s sandy soil, green environment, and warm-dry climate provide the perfect fit for a better sweet potato, not to mention the beautiful shape and rich colorful skin,” Tucker said in a news release.

The council has unveiled a new logo, too, Tucker said.

California Sweet Potato Growers

California sweet potato industry pioneer “Sweet Potato Joe” Alvernaz, 93, died in November in a nursing home.


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