Sweet potatoes fit locally grown marketing initiatives

10/30/2012 05:00:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Chefs in New York send crew out to fields to buy some things like red leaf lettuce. With sweet potatoes, you don’t see that.”

Local demand is good, said George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn.

It has its limits, however, he said.

“I think you are seeing a lot of people looking for local,” Wooten said.

“The thing about it is, everyone can’t be local. The thing about local, the pressure retailers are putting on us to do all our food safety issues, the (Global Trade Identification Numbers) and traceability, we have all that and that may limit some of the smaller people from being able to afford to it.”

Wooten said he thinks local witnesses higher demand than organic produce.

Though he said organic has its place, Wayne E. Bailey doesn’t grow organic sweet potatoes but markets some from other growers.

Wayne E. Bailey used to offer organics during the late 2000s. Wooten said the category represents a limited market.

Organic demand is increasing, Joyner said.

“It has done OK, and we have been very fortunate with it,” he said. “It’s a good product, but it’s still considered a niche. It allows Nash to broaden its product offerings and complements the bags and microwaveable product we offer.”

Burch sells all its organic sweet potatoes to processors that produce organic baby food, Burch said.


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