Enthusiasm, demand up for sweet potatoes - The Packer

Enthusiasm, demand up for sweet potatoes

08/31/2010 03:29:43 PM
Abbie Stutzer

Sweet potato demand has hit a high this year, whether the vegetable is canned, processed, or fresh-cut.

Roy Hansen, sales manager for Dawson Farms, Delhi, La., said he thinks sweet potatoes move themselves and that sweet potato demand is up every year.

Johnny Roy, manager of Earl Roy Sweet Potato Co. LLC, Hessmer, La., said there is a high demand for canned sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries.

One selling factor is the vegetable’s nutritional value, said Wayne Garber, partner in Garber Farms, Iota, La. In turn, consumers are making sweet potatoes a part of their diets throughout the year.

Shane Watt, director of sweet potatoes for Wada Farms Marketing Group, Idaho Falls, Idaho, said the company’s processing deal has been great because of french fries and mashed potatoes. The company has been able to penetrate into more mainstream markets with sweet potatoes.

There’s lots of enthusiasm, and a seemingly strong crop with more promotions, Garber said. In fact, Garber Farms is experiencing excellent sales during nonholiday months.

“Our product is enjoying a favorable position because of demand increases,” Garber said.

Not just for Thanksgiving

While sweet potato demand at Thanksgiving hasn’t changed, sweet potato sales have increased during non-holiday months significantly. Larger packs are more popular and the consumer bag business is picking up.

The marketing of fresh jumbo in retail is higher and there is increased popularity of convenience items in the industry, too, Wooten said.

Jimmy Burch, owner of Burch Farms, Faison, N.C., said he thinks the sweet potato commission has helped increase consumption.

The commission recently got sweet potatoes on one of Weight Watcher’s meal plans.

Wooten said he has seen increased success in sales of frozen french fry processing yields. The fresh-cut business has seen a little success this year, too.

National sales of sweet potatoes had a 18% increase in sales over the last year, Wooten said.



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