The commission promotes the vegetable’s nutritional benefits through a series of messages such as “sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, an excellent source of vitamin A, provide antioxidants and are rich in potassium,” and “a medium sweet potato has 103 calories.”
It’s also spreading the word about sweet potatoes through social media, which includes its Facebook page, facebook.com/ncsweetpotatoes, Twitter, twitter.com/sweet_taters, and Pinterest.com/ncsweetpotatoes venues.
The commission promotes its product through a $15 per acre grower assessment that typically generates $800,000 in annualfunding, Johnson-Langdon said.
This year’s budget is expected to be similar to last year’s, she said.
Grower-shippers say promotions are effective.
“They’re doing an excellent job and it shows in the fact that sales have increased over the last couple of years,” said Charlotte Vick, partner in Vick Family Farms, Wilson, N.C.
“The North Carolina sweet potato industry as a whole leans on the commission to do a majority of the marketing.”
Brenda Oglesby, sales manager for Southern Produce Distributors Inc., Faison, N.C., said promotion efforts are reaping dividends.
“The commission is going for the quick-service restaurants and trying to promote them throughout the U.S. and overseas,” she said.
“Sweet potatoes are catching on everywhere because of the health benefits. When we first started going overseas, we would see them occasionally in stores. The last time we were there this summer, they were in every store we visited and in the outdoor markets in France. We would see them everywhere.”