Sweet potato consumption on the rise

10/16/2013 11:52:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Those non-holiday weeks are seeing bigger movement, he said.

Jimmy Burch, co-owner of Faison-based Burch Farms, recently visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

He said he was surprised to see that all the restaurants his family visited featured sweet potatoes on their menus.

Burch said he was also pleased to be able to order sweet potato fries in an Idaho Falls restaurant during a visit to the russet potato state.

“You wouldn’t have seen that 10 years ago,” Burch said. “Now, they’re everywhere. People are eating more and more sweet potatoes even in areas that haven’t traditionally been sweet potato territory, like the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. They’re expanding all over and every little corner of the U.S. and Canada has sweet potatoes.

Charlotte Vick, partner with Vick Family Farms, Wilson, N.C., said sweet potatoes are definitely enjoying demand that seems to grow each year.

“Demand has been very strong,” she said. “We have sold sweet potatoes for dog food treats, in steamer bags, mesh bags and in 40-pound boxes. They’re being used for such a variety of things now. In the last five years, sweet potatoes seem to be the hot vegetable.”

Thomas Joyner, general manager of Nash Produce Co., Nashville, N.C., said health interest helps fuel sales.

“It’s an alternate starch that’s actually good for people,” he said.

“It’s considered a super food and has the American Heart Association’s endorsement. People that didn’t know much about them continue to learn more about their health benefits. It’s always on the trending lists and is promoted well as a good product.”


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