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Demand for sweet potatoes continues

By
Keith Loria

The global sweet potato market was valued at around $42.7 billion in 2020 and will reach $45.7 billion by the end of 2025, according to data from Statista.

That’s good news for the companies growing sweet potatoes.

Last year’s crop fared better than the previous few years, but by the end of the season, sweet potatoes were hard to come by, increasing prices across the entire industry. Those increased prices are expected to play into the new 2023 crop, and growers are expecting a banner season.

In North Carolina, the growing conditions and soil types are optimal for successful sweet potato growth, allowing growers to produce a wide size variety of the root vegetable to fulfill any customer preference.

North Carolina has ranked as the No. 1 sweet potato producer in the United States since 1971 according to the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service, and that’s something that those at the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission work hard to let consumers know.

“Sweet potatoes aren’t just for holidays, and they aren’t just for casseroles,” said Michelle Grainger, executive director of the NC Sweetpotato Commission. “Sweet potatoes are one of the most versatile foods and perfect for nearly every dietary need. They are the perfect vehicle for both sweet and savory flavors and every meal occasion. We’ve worked closely with dietitians and food influencers to help spread our message and create and promote a variety of digital content that appeals to a wide range of demographics.”

Thanks to the NC Sweetpotato Commission’s marketing support, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, research and education programs has helped yield approximately $2.1 billion industry impact in a variety of areas including the commercialization of sweet potato fries and the discovery of the Covington variety which makes up nearly 99 percent of production and is regarded for its excellent quality, consistent shape and disease resistance.

Robin Narron, marketing director for the Nashville, NC-based Nash Produce, is working closely with the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission to promote the consumption of North Carolina sweet potatoes all over the world.

“Researching new varieties and constant innovation in harvest and post-harvest practices has the future of the sweet potato industry looking bright,” she said.

Retail locations have been doing an excellent job in promoting sweet potato sales by keeping ample stock of fresh product front-and-center.

“Retailers have done a good job with helping to highlight sweet potatoes in the stores,” said Autumn Campbell, sales manager for the Wynne, AR-based Matthews Ridgeview Farms. “If they continue to build displays, offer additional nutritional information to consumers, offer recipes and promote when it’s not necessarily peak season, things will continue to be strong.”

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July 11, 2024
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