North Carolina SweetPotato Commission Shares Vision and 60th Anniversary Celebrations; Michelle Grainger Shares
BENSON, NC - As the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2021 and rallies the industry around the coveted spud, I can’t help but feel both my passion as a fan and my dedication to elevating incredible stories deepen. Driven by vision and innovation, the team behind the commission is commemorating this milestone event with a year full of experiences, activities, consumer engagement, trade participation, and partnerships. With such drive to evolve the category, I just had to ask Executive Director Michelle Grainger what fuels the commission and how its mission and vision play into a legacy of excellence.
“The sole purpose of the commission is to increase sweetpotato consumption through education, promotional activities, research, and honorable horticultural practices among its producers,” Michelle expresses. “We work diligently to ensure that each element of our mission is consistently attended to. For example, our education and research efforts each have two distinct audiences, the consumer and the producer. We work to ensure that our producers have access to the most current research findings as well as provide opportunities for them to actively participate in ongoing research.”
As the commission seeks to build and deepen its network, the team also works with sweetpotato growers, packers, and shippers to provide educational opportunities to further their own operations from farm and field management to food safety practices and so much more. With the sweetpotato lover as the ultimate recipient of the category’s excellence, Michelle tells me that the commission’s reach touches each point of value, including the shopping basket, produce-loving kitchen, and even schools.
“For the consumer, an element of our promotional activities includes seeking grant funding to support educational outreach targeted for consumers. These efforts have included creating a K-12 STEM curriculum that is free to all and its lesson plans are mapped to National Board Education standards to creating videos targeted to specific communities of consumers such as school foodservice professionals and registered dietitians and nutritionists,” Michelle shares.
As the NC SweetPotato Commission’s primary mission is to increase consumer consumption, this is an area where the model focuses the most.
“We are constantly stretching ourselves to reach consumers in new and unique ways for our category, and our 60th-anniversary, year-long celebration will be no different,” Michelle relays to me.
For example, just this past year, the group ran ads on both iHeart Streaming and Podcasts and tried out Gas Station TV (GSTV).
“We published in both print and digital formats a Retail Dietitian’s Toolkit which is meant to be just that: a toolbox for dietitians where they can find resources available across a 12-month period to share and use with their own clients and channels,” Michelle says with palpable excitement. “This is a special time for our superfood—there has perhaps been no time in our recent history where there was so much emphasis placed on health and good nutrition while also home kitchen experimentation has exploded globally! Our favorite tater has a story to tell, and we are going to do our best to ensure that consumers consider it for any meal of the day year-round and not just as a beloved side dish during the holidays.”
With such heart and commitment, it is no wonder that the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission is galvanizing the region and its members with such dedication. And, AndNowUKnow will be here to bring you these incredible efforts as these sweetpotato celebrations get underway.