Optimism for 2022 is high at Nash Produce
Nash Produce will have ample 2021 sweet potato storage throughout the spring and summer.
“Experience has taught us that maintaining our sweet potato inventory at a constant humidity and temperature throughout the year ensures that the last portion of the crop is just as good as the new crop that we will receive in the fall,” said Thomas Joyner, president of the Nashville, NC-based company. “Going back to our investment in controlled atmosphere storage facilities, this allows us to provide quality sweet potatoes for our customers year-round. We will start transitioning into the new sweet potato crop in mid-October of this year.”
This year will be the first time in more than 50 years that Nash Produce has not graded/packed and sold pickling cucumbers.
“We decided, essentially by our growers, that the profitability in grading cucumbers was not sufficient for us to continue the program,” Joyner said. “However, we are now focused solely on our sweet potato program and expect to continue to grow and invest in our facilities and operations.”
In that regard, over the past 2-3 years, Nash Produce has added 800,000 bushels of controlled atmosphere storage culminating with an additional 400,000-bushel facility available in June of this year. Now, the total storage for controlled atmosphere storage exceeds 4 million bushels.
The No. 1 goal at Nash Produce is to provide retail and foodservice buyers with the highest quality sweet potato throughout the year.
“The way we consistently produce the highest quality sweet potato is through investing in top-notch facilities that allow us to control temperature and humidity,” Joyner said. “This ensures customers that they will receive the best product in the industry all year long. Our facilities are the biggest in the industry and help us produce the amount of volume that customers need for the entire year.”
Another way Nash Produce continues to create value for retail and foodservice buyers, is through multiple varieties and packaging options.
“We offer three different varieties of sweet potatoes: Covington, Bonita, and Murasaki,” Joyner said. “Additionally, we also offer the Covington variety as an organic option. From there, customers can pick from multiple packing options that range from steamers and microwaveable to bagging options and bulk. These varieties and packing options allow us to remain as one of the major players in the industry.”
In 2022, Nash Produce has improved its availability of value-added products which now includes a tray pack of four sweet potatoes. This additional packaging option is one way the company continually tries to innovate and meet customers’ wants and needs.
“Hopefully this packaging option will allow customers to enjoy the right number of sweet potatoes for their summer cookout,” Joyner said.
The past and current year continue to present challenges including cost increases, labor shortages, and freight costs. In mid-May, fuel costs were at record levels and a lot of uncertainty regarding costs remain.
“We try to be very transparent with our customers and partners, as we want to give our most competitive pricing,” Joyner said. “In return, we hope this communication and transparency will help cultivate our relationships with partners and ultimately benefit both.”
Still, leadership at Nash Produce is optimistic about the growth it is experiencing. “As we continue to grow as a company, we are also wanting to continue to innovate and keep up with the growing industry trends,” Joyner said. “Whether that be different packaging options or looking for ways to improve our storage facilities, we believe that continuous innovation is the key to providing the highest quality sweet potato. Overall, the optimism is high at Nash Produce.”