Gina Pettit of Country Sweet Produce Discusses Organic Sweet Potato Program
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Sweet potatoes are my favorite spud, and Gina Pettit, at Country Sweet Produce (CSP), is inclined to agree with me. I had the chance to speak with the Director of Sales and Marketing about the company's organic sweet potato program, and boy, are you all in for a treat.
“CSP is focused on leading the category with fresh ideas and innovation,” she shared with me. “We want to make sweet potatoes more accessible and more convenient. Buying trends and interests are changing—and we are constantly looking ahead to forge a new path for new opportunities and product offerings.”
Some of these new offerings include the expansion of the company's organic sweet potato tray, which now offers a 2 ct and 4 ct in 2019. The organic baby sweet potato also made its debut during the 2018 holiday season and continues to grow throughout the beginning of this year.
“Engaging retailers in new product development is important to us,” Gina explained. “When people come to us with an idea and engage in the process, they are invested in the result and success of the item. Many retail stores are fortunate to have tenured decision makers who started as stockers or store clerks, and they understand what works best at the store level.”
With organic ring essential to retailers, I asked Gina for some of her tips on merchandising opportunities as we step into the new year.
“Extracting them from their neighboring potatoes and pairing them with produce items of similar nutritional value for a healthy lifestyle ad would certainly do them justice,” she said. “Consumers see potatoes, and all they see are unwanted carbohydrates, which is not true of sweet potatoes. Reclassifying and correctly referring to them as sweet potatoes pulls them away from the marshmallows and cinnamon during the holidays and into an everyday item that can be prepared with healthy ingredients such as kale and ground turkey.”
Tapping into this nutritional messaging and flavor versatility, retailers can easily drive traffic and sales in the category.
“At CSP, we are invested in organics,” Gina concluded. “This is our first year-round organic program. We expect to continue this trend moving forward. Every year, our farm is committed to transitioning more acres to organics and contributing to the the growth of our organic items.”
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