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Greater sweet potato supply right now compared to last year

It's been an interesting year for the movement of sweet potatoes. "We had a really big Thanksgiving which was surprising overall for us," says Kristi Hocutt of Triple J Produce. "Then we had a moderate Q1 and now we're picking up a little bit. However, I am hearing that people in the industry are cutting back sales because their inventory is not as strong as others."

While some suppliers may be short on supply, Hocutt believes the crop will generally run into the harvest of the 2024-2025 crop. "I think they'll be okay and shouldn't gap," she says.

This is very different from the "Wild West" scenario that Hocutt says last year's situation looked like. "Everybody was heavy at this time and then the USDA threw out this bid saying they were going to buy loads and everybody started packing really heavy," says Hocutt, adding that the industry didn't realize that all those orders were great in May and June. However the crop either didn't hold or the industry moved a great amount of sweet potatoes because the end of the season proved very tight on supply. "This year won't be as tight," she says.

Increasing movement
The movement of sweet potatoes right now has picked up somewhat. "We're getting calls every day for export," says Hocutt, noting that Triple J isn't exporting as much right now because at this time of year, there could be temperature issues that affect the quality of sweet potatoes. "The demand is there and the pricing is decent right now if anybody did export. Domestically we're holding steady," she says.

That pricing is in fact looking comparable, if not a little higher, than last year at this time. "I wish we could be a little more aggressive but it could be worse so I'm happy with it," she says. "I think the price will stay. It needs to go up but you've got to play the market so maybe in July and August, it will be a bit different."

Looking ahead to this fall's crop, Triple J is gearing up with planting. "We're in the beginning stages where the plants are ready and we just need to transplant which will happen by the end of June," says Hocutt. This planting is earlier this year due to good weather. "Everybody is a bit ahead of the game which is good because you want to harvest. With hurricane season in the fall, the sooner you get the crop out, the better you can sleep at night."

For more information:
Kristi Hocutt
Triple J Produce
Tel: +1 (252) 289-8326
[email protected]