Domestic consumption of sweet potatoes has grown considerably since 2000 with annual per capita availability rising from 4.2 pounds to reach a record-high 7.5 pounds in 2015. The marked rise in domestic demand has been encouraged by promotion of the health benefits of sweet potatoes – rich in vitamins A and C, high in fiber.
To meet rising demand, sweet potato production has increased substantially in recent years, achieving a record-high production of 3.1 billion pounds in 2015. The 2015 harvest was a high-water mark in a 15-year trend of expansion that began in 2000 when U.S. production was just 1.3 billion pounds. In 2014 and 2015, sweet potato production increased by an average of about six percent per year.
New crop production hit a slight snag in early October of 2016, when Hurricane Matthew arrived in North Carolina. The storm brought record flooding to many areas of the State, which is the largest U.S. producer of sweet potatoes. Although some loss was inevitable, greater damage was avoided with much of the crop having already been harvested when the hurricane hit.