( Courtesy Jackson Farming Co. )

Sweet potato grower-shipper Wayne Bailey Produce, Chadbourn, N.C., is closing after 85 years, and its customers will now be served by Jackson Farming Co.

All Bailey sales personnel will work for Jackson Farming, Autryville, N.C., and the Bailey brand names will still be available to customers, according to a news release.

“This will help Jackson Farming Co. expand its presence in the sweet potato industry, with the 2019 crop, while ensuring that Wayne Bailey’s loyal customers continue to receive the highest level of service that they are accustomed to,” according to a news release.

Jackson Farming grows melons and other fruits, as well as mixed vegetables and sweet potatoes. The Wayne Bailey deal will greatly expand its offering of sweet potatoes, however. Jackson Farming is expanding production capabilities to cover retail, foodservice and export customer needs, according to the release.

The company will now offer sweet potato count cartons, microwaveable products (including steam bags) and tray packs, according to the release.

Wayne Bailey brands that will be offered by Jackson Farming include:

  • Playboy;
  • GoodBuy;
  • Nutritional Allstar;
  • We be Yammin’;
  • Sampson King; and
  • George’s Foods.

Matt Solana, vice president of operations and supply chain at Jackson Farming, said the company does not plan to continue to offer the fresh-cut line under the George’s Food label. Wayne Bailey expanded into fresh-cut with the label in 2006, and has offered shreds, sticks, cubes, slabs, purees and other options.

That brand is named after Wayne Bailey’s George Wooten, who joined the company in 1977 and became its president in 1991. He will remain with the company “throughout the process to ensure a smooth transition,” according to the release, but Solana said he will not be employed by Jackson Farming after that.

The Wayne Bailey sales staff will retain their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Wayne Bailey Produce, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2018, received approval of its restructuring plan in September. Unfortunately for sweet potato and other commodity growers in North Carolina and nearby states, hurricanes Florence and then Michael damaged their crops last fall.

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