Nash Produce's Tami Long Talks North Carolina Sweet Potatoes
NASHVILLE, NC – Nothing brings me home quite like the smell of sweet potatoes baking in the oven: sugars caramelizing on low temperature, the exposed flesh slowly darkening to chestnut. For an update on how the popular staple is faring out of North Carolina, I spoke with Tami Long, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Nash Produce.
“Demand remains high,” said Tami. “Sweet potatoes are crazy healthy, and taste great, so they are becoming more and more popular. My goal is to educate the consumer on the many, many ways you can cook sweet potatoes. Most people see a sweet potato as a casserole or baked but are not aware of the many ways to incorporate sweet potatoes in their diets. Sweet potatoes can even be used as a sweetener component for recipes. As consumers understand sweet potatoes better, the demand will continue to increase.”
With the strong demand for sweet potatoes this year, Nash has been able to respond with an “excellent harvest,” as Tami puts it, and a particularly large yield of organics and Murasaki.
Tami elaborated on how education will help improve sales of the root veggie.
“People still think there is a difference between a yam and sweet potato, but in the U.S. yams are actually sweet potatoes. Covingtons were labeled yams, because they have a softer texture,” Tami shared. “They don’t see how versatile sweet potatoes can be. I have visited several elementary schools to discuss sweet potatoes. I always start by asking who has never had, doesn’t like, or likes sweet potatoes. Since sweet potatoes are a vegetable, there are many ‘do not’ like hands up. By the end of my presentation, they all want to know how to make sweet potato ice cream! Education and communication are what brings change to everything.”
Challenging this season is also the new ELD mandate which has been impacting costs at multiple levels of the business and across the industry.
“Truck costs are continuing to rise, so this will put a big strain on many companies that are not prepared,” Tami added.
Nash Produce’s inventory of fresh produce comes from the company’s grower-owners throughout eastern North Carolina. Reaching over a 200-mile radius, these farms have some of the best soils in the world for growing the fresh vegetables. Collectively, Nash’s growers devote over 10,000 acres to sweet potato production.
Despite ELD challenges, it looks like the hearty root is on the up and up! To track its progress, stay with us here at AndNowUKnow.