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Weaklings and Unappealings
North Carolina company introduces new sweet potato productIn hopes of tapping into industry trends around sustainability and eliminating food waste, Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. of Chadbourn, NC is pushing a new type of potato product.
“We’ve got some product that doesn’t quite have the look some people want,” says George Wooten of Bailey Produce. “So we have introduced our “Weaklings” and “Unappealings” potatoes.” The Weaklings are potatoes that don’t quite meet the grade of Bailey’s specialty products, such as its steamers, while the Unappealings are potatoes characterized as visually defective, primarily in shape, notes Wooten.
“We just started pushing them in the past three months,” says Wooten. “And it may just be a niche market. But the ability to sell that helps everybody. In a sweet potato crop, the premium product that everybody wants is possibly between 45-55 percent of the crop.” In turn, that leaves a considerable amount of good product that’s still consumable. “And we started doing it since we heard that’s what people want,” he says.
Storage supply solid
It helps Wooten market with its year-round supply of sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina. “We have potatoes in storage that we’re packing from and, for this crop, we still have six more months to ship what was produced in the fall,” he says. So while he currently characterizes supply as adequate, demand continues to be strong on all fronts—from retail to foodservice to exports. “Sweet potatoes have become a prominent part of the produce aisle,” says Wooten. “And demand is really good. It’s at record highs as far as consumers are concerned.”
As for pricing, for now it’s stabilized and similar to pricing levels at this time last year. “We just finished Easter and our Easter movement is as good as our Christmas movement,” says Wooten. “But this week is a bit of a lull because there were some good promotions across the country. Consumers were probably buying because there was some good pricing out there. So it’s been a little bit slow, but we’ll pick back up for the first of the month.”
For more information:
Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co.
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