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Threes are wild for Triple J Produce

As a family-owned business run by a trio of Hocutts — Mike, Jay and Joey —Triple J Produce Inc., has been involved in farming for three generations.

The Sims, NC-based company raises a diversified line of crops and take great pride in producing quality fresh produce. Its largest crop is sweet potatoes, regularly growing 1,400 acres of conventional and 250 acres of organic year-round. Overall, the company farms more than 5,000 acres, of which 1,000 acres are certified organic.

microwavable-sweet-potatoesTriple J Produce packages sweet potatoes in 40-pound bulk cartons, three-pound bags and microwavable. “Success comes from staying in your lane and doing what’s best for your company,” said Kristi Hocutt, sales manager for Triple J Produce. “This season has been unique due to the two hurricanes that we endured during the growing season. Because of those, the crop is definitely short and strained a bit.”

Still, considering the circumstances, the company has a positive outlook on what to expect in the months ahead for the sweet potato category.

“Overall, it’s looking pretty good,” Hocutt said. “Organics especially are trending, which seems to always be the case, as there is a large demand for them.”

Triple J Produce packages in 40-pound bulk cartons, three-pound bags and offers microwavable sweet potatoes as well. All three categories are expected to be stronger this year.

The biggest challenge the company faces at the beginning of 2019 is the market, as other packinghouses are discounting the crop, and this season many expect to be marketing at decent prices.

“It seems still low, and we are trying to get as much money back to the growers as possible,” Hocutt said. “The past few seasons have really been a struggle with growers getting discouraged and many even stopping growing due to the prices.”

At Triple J Produce, the company tries to stick to fair pricing, raising them up and down accordingly — and within reason. It’s all about tight margins, Hocutt said.

In the year ahead, the company plans to keep working to put a solid, marketable product out there for consumers and have the team to get the job done. Hocutt believes that if retailers provided more education on the health benefits of sweet potatoes and maybe did more in-store sampling, sales would increase.

“From what I see, the displays with sweet potatoes are always very inviting and neat,” she said. “It’s a category that can really take off in the year ahead.”