NORTH Carolina sweet potatoes have achieved superfood status as more and more people around the world discover their sweet, nutrition-packed flavor, Cynthia David reveals in The Packer.
Between 2000 and 2016, consumption increased 42%, reaching 7.2 pounds per capita.
Executive Director of the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, Michelle Grainger, said that while the majority of the North Carolina crop remains the conventional orange-fleshed covington variety, there is growing consumer interest in organics.
“I believe this is largely due to consumer perception that ‘organic’ means healthy, yet supported research finds no difference in nutritional value between organic and conventionally grown. This now becomes a matter of our producers meeting consumer demand,” Michelle said.
Of the newer varieties, purple sweet potatoes, with their purple-tinted skin and violet flesh are gaining traction because of the novelty factor, she said.
The commission’s communications specialist CoCo Daughtry said state researchers are working on a new variety of purple sweet potato similar to the Stokes Purple, patented in 2006 in Stokes County, North Carolina. Purple sweet potatoes are less sweet than the traditional orange, with a warm, nutty flavor.
Charlotte Vick, Partner/sales and Marketing Manager for Vick Family Farms said retailers are carrying more of her organic and specialty varieties as niche items, such as reddish-purple, white-fleshed murasaki, developed at the University of Louisiana in the early 2000s, and the sweet bonita, with its tan skin and white flesh. She also still grows a few acres of beauregards, red-copper tubers with deep orange flesh.
Source: The Packer