North Carolina sweet potato farmer receives National honor

At the closing celebrations of the US Sweet Potato Council’s annual event held in Wilmington, NC, their highest honor was posthumously awarded to local businessman, D. Stewart Precythe. Each year the US Sweet Potato Council selects a member in good standing who through hard work, selfless dedication, and distinguished service has served the sweet potato industry.

Stewart Precythe
As a child, Stewart Precythe, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Faison, N.C.-based Southern Produce, began working with his dad, Harold, at the now-defunct Faison Fruit & Vegetable Exchange. It was there Stewart learned from the ground floor, he labeled growers’ bushel baskets, unloaded produce trucks and was a checker who verified the bushels growers sold to the operation. They came from every walk of life, and Precythe studied them all. To him, it was like getting a Ph.D. in produce.

Kelly and Stewart Precythe

In 1986, a government buyer for military commissaries, mentioned to Stewart that it would be really nice if the government could send sweet potatoes to troops at commissaries in Europe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Knowing it had been tried before, but timing had not been right Precythe took a chance. That year Southern Produce shipped one of the first successful sweet potato programs to Germany. Precythe helped pave the way for the U.S. sweet potato export program to Europe, which now includes mainstream retailers and foodservice operations.

Although he enjoyed sport fishing and hunting when younger, he considered work his hobby and enjoyed traveling and meeting his customers.

For more information:
Brooke Britt
Southern Produce Distributors, Inc.
Tel: +1 (910) 267-0011

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