California cooperative introduces logo

Sweet Potatoes: Business updates

After 46 years, California Sweet Potato Growers, Livingston, Calif., introduced a logo in December, said Sarah Alvernaz, general manager. The logo appears on invoices and company calendars.

Matt Alvernaz joined the co-op as a new grower last summer. His partners are his father, Ben, and uncle Jim Alvernaz.

In 1963, “Sweet Potato Joe” Alvernaz, who is Ben and Jim’s father, started the co-op with five other members, Sarah Alvernaz said.

The co-op ships up to 300,000 40-pound equivalents annually.

Mississippi growers plan for a rebound

Benny Graves, executive secretary of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, Starkville, said growers focused on the 2010 season and planning to recover from a disastrous 2009 season.

“We’re looking at crop models right now to see what acreage we can put in,” Graves said in mid-February.

The council was working to secure federal and state legislation to help growers who suffered losses from Mississippi’s heavy rains with low interest loans and other assistance.

“Rest assured, we’re going to grow sweet potatoes,” Graves said. “We’re going to come back.”

N.C. commission rehires New York PR firm

Lewis & Neal Inc., a New York City-based public relations firm, was hired again to assist Smithfield-based North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission with promotions, said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the commission.

The firm and commission continue to build an online presence through the commission’s Web site, a blog and a Facebook page. 

This is Lewis & Neale’s second year working with the commission.

U.S. council seeks ideas for cost-effective promos

The board of directors for Columbia, S.C.-based The U.S. Sweet Potato Council is asking state council members submit to new ideas for promoting sweet potatoes that cost $10,000 or less.

The ideas are to be presented to the board at its June meeting, said Charles Walker, executive secretary of the council. The board will award funding to the state with the best idea so that the plan can be implemented in the fall.

Wayne E. Bailey sees fingerling interest grow

The fingerling sweet potato program is getting more interest from foodservice customers, said George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C.

The company will ship fingerlings in foodservice packs of 10, 20 and 40 pounds. Each fingerling weighs at average of 2.5 ounces. Wayne E. Bailey also can ship 1½-pound consumer packs of fingerlings, which retail for about $2.89.

Wayne E. Bailey ships throughout most of the U.S., except into the Northwest. It also exports sweet potatoes to Europe.

The company celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, Wooten said.