Black Gold Farms

Black Gold Farms, Grand Forks, N.D., acquired Dawson Farms, Delhi, La., earlier this year.

In addition, the company is working to upgrade its facility and improve packing capabilities, long term storage capacity, and product quality, said Jason Chandler, director of new crops for Black Gold Farms.

Todd O’Neal was hired by Black Gold Farms as farm manager at the recently acquired farm and packing facility.

“He’s had a lifetime of experience with sweet potato production and is going to be a valuable asset to our growing sweet potato category,” said Leah Brakke, marketing director.

In addition, the company has a new Black Gold Farms label for the new crop, both in cartons and on individual microwave labels, Brakke said.


Market Fresh

Market Fresh Produce, LLC, Nixa, Mo., has a new logo for the year.

Shanan Cox, director of national accounts, said the company created the new logo to better convey the “fresh from the farm” message.

The new logo features a bright green color and simple barn graphic.

“Market Fresh is confident that the new logo will help increase brand recognition by providing customers with an overall appealing and innovative look,” Cox said.

The new logo was launched in May.

“Slowly, Market Fresh has infiltrated the look across the entire organization beginning with packaging,” Cox said, mentioning the company has also introduced the logo on trade show displays, the website, social media accounts and other promotional materials.


Mississippi Sweet Potato Council

The Mississippi Sweet Potato Council will host the U.S. Sweet Potato Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

The event is set for Jan. 25-27.

Benny Graves, executive director of the Vardaman, Miss., council, said the group was pleased to host the event and had adopted Nashville as the conference’s city this year.

“These events provide opportunities for buyers and packers and growers to all meet,” Graves said.


North Carolina Commission

The Benson-based North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission is working to increase sweet potato consumption through various promotions and social media efforts.

Another promotion was conducted through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program with the assistance of North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ “Got To Be” program entitled “52 Ways to Love Sweet Potatoes,” which ran earlier this year and offered new ways to use sweet potatoes.

“We conducted this through social media and a retail supermarket promotion which featured point-of-purchase materials, a produce manager display contest, consumer photo contest and sampling events in three chains, Lowes Foods, Ingles and Piggly Wiggly,” said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director.

Other sampling and informational events across the state are also planned.

The commission also recently completed strategic planning for its 10-year goals.

“The staff is committed to bring value to every aspect of our industry which includes its membership,” Johnson-Langdon said.


Southern Produce

Southern Produce Distributors Inc., is looking to the future in hopes of more storage for the beginning of next year.

Stewart Precythe, president and chief executive officer of the Faison, N.C.-based company said the work is expected to begin in January.

“We’re working on the plans for construction” he said.



Vardaman, Miss.-based SMP Southeast/Edmondson Farms increased sweet potato acreage by 25% for 2014.

The two companies are partners. SMP handles the marketing and sales while Edmondson farms grows the raw product.

The company will also pack in a new box, said Trey Boyette, sales.

“We are excited to introduce the new SMP Logo Box that will start shipping in September,” Boyette said.

Other changes include the hiring of Jeff Axelberg in the North Carolina sales office.

Axelberg began work in September of last year and has worked for L&M, Texas Sweet Potato and Wayne E. Bailey.

The company is also upgrading its packing facility.

“We now have over a half million bushel of computer controlled cooler storage rooms, with a total storage capacity of over 1.5 million bushel,” Boyette said.


Wada Farms

Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC opened a sales office in Raleigh, N.C. last year to handle sweet potato volume from that region.

So far, the office has been successful at increasing the company’s sweet potato sales.

“Since then we’ve broadened our customer base, expanded our grower partnerships, and are increasing our commitment,” said Jeff Scramlin, director of business development.


Wayne E. Bailey

Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., has increased acreage by about 10% for 2014, said George Wooten Jr., owner.

“It’s been a much better growing season than last year,” Wooten said.

The company began digging this year’s crop on Aug. 18.