Sweet Potato business update briefs

03/15/2013 01:41:00 PM
Jim Offner

Wayne E. Bailey offers new four-pack

Chadbourn, N.C.-based Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. now offers a four-pack of sweet potatoes, said George Wooten, owner.

“It’s a very uniform pack with four potatoes that are overwrapped,” he said.

The product is available from Bailey Produce under the Green Giant and Bailey’s George Foods label.

 

California Sweet Potato Growers hits 50

Atwater, Calif.-based packer-shipper California Sweet Potato Growers is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013, said Sarah Alvernaz, general manager for California Sweet Potato Growers:

Alvernaz’s husband, Matthew Alvernaz, is grandson of “Sweet Potato Joe” Alvernaz, one of a group of sweet potato growers who founded the company as a packing operation in 1963.

“We are one of the first grower-owned sweet potato sheds in California,” Sarah Alvernaz said.

The company will celebrate the occasion in the fall, but no specific plans had been drawn up by the end of February, she said.

California Sweet Potato Growers packs and ships product from about 450 acres, she said.

 

Eastern Carolina Organics relocates

Organic sweet potato shipper Eastern Carolina Organics moved its operation from Pittsboro, N.C. to Durham, N.C. Jan. 1, said Trace Ramsey, project and production manager.

“We rehabbed a 26,000-

square-foot warehouse facility,” he said.

The company, which, Ramsey estimated, has “eight or nine” full-time employees, moved out of a 3,000-square-foot building, he said.

Eastern Carolina Organics deals mostly with retail customers along the East Coast of the U.S., the biggest of which is While Foods, Ramsey said.

 

Garber Farms creates website

Iota, La.-based Garber Farms now has a website, www.garberfarm.com.

The company launched the site late in 2012, said Matt Garber, a partner in the growing and shipping operation.

 

Louisiana commission puts ads on truck sides

“Rolling billboards” are the newest marketing tool at the Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission, said Rene Simon, executive director.

“Our biggest effort has been to advertise the Louisiana Sweet Potato on rolling billboards (on the) sides of trucks,” Simon said. “This has been a very effective campaign and has put our sweet potatoes in front of new consumers.”

 

Mississippi council adds specialist

The Vardaman-based Mississippi Sweet Potato Council has some extra expert assistance these days, said Benny Graves, executive secretary.

The help comes in the form of Steve Meyers, a new sweet potato specialist that the Mississippi State Extension service hired to transfer information from researchers to growers, Graves said.

Meyers, who had recently finished a doctoral degree at North Carolina State University, started with the extension service Jan. 1, Graves said.

 

Nash Produce names food safety chief

Doug White is the new food safety director with Nash Produce, based in Nashville, N.C.

White serves as a “kind of liaison” between Nash customers’ quality control staffs and the company “to make sure we meet all the latest issues in product traceback,” said Thomas Joyner, Nash’s president.

It’s one of Nash’s major focuses, Joyner said.

“On any food safety issue, we want to be on the front side, and we’re willing to work with the retailers,” he said. “When we see trends where we have to bring in different types of equipment, we have done so.”

White came to Nash in January. He previously was with Virginia-based Southern States Cooperative as a quality control supervisor. 

 

Southern Produce names quality officer

Dennis Harrell is the new marketing and quality control officer at Southern Produce Distributors Inc. in Faison, N.C., said Stewart Precythe, president and chief executive officer.

Harrell, a Raleigh, N.C., native, joined Southern Produce Distributors’ sales desk in September 2011 and subsequently worked in marketing for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. His new duties at Southern Produce Distributors began March 1, Precythe said.

Also new at Southern is a steamable bag that holds four or five small sweet potatoes, Precythe said. The item will be available nationwide.

“We hope to sell maybe 5% of the crop like this,” Precythe said.



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