Nash Produce readying controlled temperature storage facility for 2021 Sweet Potato Crop
Nash Produce is a leading supplier of sweet potatoes with a focus on innovation, quality and unrivaled service.
North Carolina has a long history of producing excellent sweet potatoes, and Nash Produce has incorporated them in its company’s program since it was officially established in 2006. Ever since then, the company’s equipment, technology, and overall facility size has grown exponentially.
“Sweet potatoes make up 100 percent our year-round business,” said Rebecca Scott, grower accounting and marketing director for the Nashville, NC-based company. “Although we grade pickling cucumbers for 3-4 months seasonally, sweet potatoes are our main business 365 days a year.”
Consistency is a key factor of Nash Produce’s success, just as it is any item in the produce segment.
“Because it is a fresh product, keeping inventory consistently available year-round is something we take great pride in,” Scott said. “Our customers trust that we will consistently deliver fresh product to their locations, and ultimately, to their customers.”
The company’s most recent crop has been packing well and Nash Produce has received a lot of positive feedback on overall quality and taste from its customers.
“Consumer interest in sweet potatoes has been excellent over the past few years and continues to be at the start of this year,” Scott said. “Due to the continued presence of the pandemic in 2021, consumers are continuing to stay home more than in normal years, thus cooking more often, and wanting to cook more wholesome meals for their families.”
Due to that, Nash Produce is projecting retail sales to be like that of last year on a more consistent basis from month to month and expect the foodservice sector to increase in activity as states begin to loosen restrictions with the increased availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The biggest opportunity for expanding and growing the category is continuing to promote the health benefits of sweet potatoes,” Scott said. “The more consumers know about the many positive attributes they possess, the more likely they will search for fun and delicious ways to prepare them.”
Retailers can do their part by offering a high volume of sweet potatoes positioned on attractive displays that will help draw the consumer’s eye their direction.
“Also, sourcing fresh product on a consistent weekly basis allows for less waste and more sales by always keeping freshly packaged product in inventory,” Scott said. “We strive to ensure frequent deliveries to each facility to maintain the freshest product possible. In addition, we provide the options of reusable plastic containers and fully recyclable packaging for several eco-friendly opportunities.”
Looking at 2021, Scott noted Nash Produce is hoping yields will be up from last year as 2020 presented growers with weather that was wet and cold early in the growing season.
“Sweet potatoes thrive in hot, humid climates, so the cold delayed harvest a little more last year than normal,” she said. “We are noticing that different varieties are gaining popularity. Our purple fleshed Murasaki and white colored Bonita sweet potatoes have sparked consumer interest with their different, sweet flavors and unique colors.”
There’s also big news on the operation size, as the company continues to grow in Nashville.
“Currently, we are putting the finishing touches on a new controlled temperature storage facility to ensure optimal sweet potato quality,” Scott said. “This facility will be fully operational for the 2021 crop.”