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Current Position:Home » News » Agri & Animal Products » Topic

North Carolina sweet potato grower expects price increase

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-03-27  Views: 1
Core Tip: The North Carolina sweet potato is seeing a bit of a boom in 2016-2017. “Our supply and demand are both good.
The North Carolina sweet potato is seeing a bit of a boom in 2016-2017. “Our supply and demand are both good. We’ve been tremendously busy since Thanksgiving,” says Charlotte Vick of Wilson, NC-based Vick Family Farms. “We had a good crop last year so our supply is right in line with our quarters for the rest of the season so we should be able to supply our customers cured to cured product which is always our goal.” Sweet potato quality has been very good this season as well adds Vick and with the 2017/2018 seed beds being prepared now, Vick hopes North Carolina will have excellent weather for a good crop again.

The Europe factor

Part of the bump might be due to the international business Vick has been seeing—Charlotte Vick estimates 60 percent of Vick’s business is in the international market. “The American sweet potato marketing board has put quite a bit of effort into marketing sweet potatoes and educating consumers on how to prepare sweet potatoes,” she says. “Europeans have especially paid attention to that and have been health-conscious. They tend to eat a lot of white potatoes but they’re switching from that to now sweet potatoes. We’re very fortunate to have had the increase in the international market to help move the large crop grown last season.” It’s a market she anticipates will continue to grow, particularly Eastern Europe, though she notes overall that Europe has plenty of growth potential over the next several years.

That said, Vick says they have to make certain Vick’s continues with excellent quality to keep consumers asking for sweet potatoes from the U.S. because other countries are developing similar programs and it makes it much more difficult to compete with their prices.

Price to go up?
So with that healthy supply and demand, for this season, prices have remained steady. “I do think because the demand is so good there does need to be an increase in price pretty soon,” says Vick. Currently in the domestic market we are working towards Easter. “We hope consumers continue to want to buy North Carolina sweet potatoes, even if prices trend upward,” she says. “The growers are experiencing much higher input costs today and it’s getting harder to make profits if retailers drive prices down.” In turn, labor shortages forces crops to be harvested with H-2A temporary agricultural workers—an expensive for farmers. “Farmers can’t continue to operate on such small margins,” Vick says.
 
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