Louisiana sweet potato crops recover from 2016’s rain damage
Coming back after a challenging 2016, Louisiana sweet potatoes are back up to good levels of supply.
“We’re focusing right now on making sure we have a 12-month supply for customers and so far it’s looking fine,” says Matt Garber of Iota, La.-based Garber Farms. “Last year, rain caused us to lose half our crop. This year is an average crop.”
Demand evening out
A 12-month supply of sweet potatoes is key now because the commodity is less likely to experience the highs and lows alone of higher demand on holidays and instead is becoming a year-round commodity with steady demand. “Thanksgiving is our busiest holiday followed by Easter and Christmas is the third busiest holiday for us,” says Garber. “But we don’t have as low dips as there were 15 years ago even. We have some surges but it really never stops. There’s good movement every month.”
That puts pricing on an average price this year. “But it’s definitely lower than last year,” says Garber. “Prices are about 5-10 per cent lower than last year.”
Consumers looking for easy
Not only has demand steadied for the root vegetable but how consumers get their potatoes is also changing and moving more towards convenience items.
“Convenience packs are really trending right now,” says Garber. “So that might be individually wrapped microwaved sweet potatoes or steamer packs which are 1.5 lbs. of small sweet potatoes or tray packs. We’re not breaking new ground here in the sweet potato industry but we are following the trend of regular potatoes.”
While Garber is seeing the Thanksgiving surge right now he anticipates by week’s end, things will quiet down. “And then it all depends on sales and whether they’re over or under stocked and then we’ll be replenishing orders come next week,” he says.
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Publication date: 11/16/2017
Author: Astrid van den Broek
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