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Wada helps promote NC produce

Eric Beck, director of marketing for Wada Farms Marketing Group, headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, sees the company as another strong voice to represent the value of North Carolina produce with a specific interest in potatoes and sweet potatoes.

“Wada takes pride in offering quality North Carolina sweet potatoes and potatoes to a very diverse portfolio of customers throughout the domestic and international markets,” he said. “Success is yielded by maintaining a reputation of integrity, honesty, and commitment to grow the North Carolina brand. It’s more than just promoting Wada, it’s about promoting the value of North Carolina offerings to the fresh market.”

Demand for North Carolina sweet potatoes remains in a steady climb as the segment undergoes a modern-day renaissance in both domestic and international markets. This “reawakening” started in the early 2000’s with the rise of “fad diets” such as the Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo diets.

Wada-Sweet-Potato---Close-Up Idaho Falls, ID-based Wada Farms Marketing Group takes pride in offering quality North Carolina sweet potatoes.“As these programs gained popularity with the end consumer, so did sweet potatoes,” Beck said. “Each of these health-based programs touted sweet potatoes as one of the most beneficial superfoods available. High in fiber, loaded with vitamins, and pretty much available all year round, the sweet potato was finding its way into more shopping baskets at an exponential rate.” 

Since sweet potato consumption has nearly doubled since 2000, many North Carolina growers have have taken note — especially tobacco farmers.

Beck added that with a fair amount of tobacco acreage being transitioned to sweet potatoes, it has solidified North Carolina’s position as the largest producer of the increasingly popular vegetable root.

“We anticipate this trend to continue as sweet potatoes remain a fairly stable cash crop for growers, and the demand continues to rise in all global markets,” he said. “The North Carolina crop has been beautiful this year. Quality continues to exceed expectations providing great value to the buyer; and ultimately, the end consumer.”

What is most exciting for Wada is the growth it is seeing in the export markets.

“North Carolina holds a fairly large stake in this area with growth being over 1,000 percent over the past 10 years. This translates into more than $138 million for the state of North Carolina,” Beck said. “Wada has been putting a lot of focus on value-added offerings in the sweet potato market. We have an increased focus on the ‘ready-to-eat’ market segment, and identifying new consumer demands as it pertains to sweet potatoes.” 

Additionally, Wada continues to expand its footprint in North Carolina as its sales forces continues to grow to meet the rising demand for Wada North Carolina sweet potatoes.