Nash Produce introduces carry mesh bags for sweet potato products

Nash Produce was created in 2006 by farmers to handle the processing, distribution and sales for their sweet potatoes, so there’s no better authority on the subject.

“Farmers just want to farm and these North Carolina farmers realized that it would be better to invest in people who were experts on the business side, so they could concentrate of farming,” said Tami Long, director of marketing and business development for Nash Produce, based in Nashville, NC. “We represent 50-plus farmers with more than 10,000 acres of sweet potatoes. Nash Produce is one of the few distributors that has a team to meet all the needs of the farmer and retail buyer.”

Mesh-bags-front-3-hi-rez-Josh And while it’s being reported that farmers planted less acres of sweet potatoes this year due to the incredibly low price, Nash Produce will have product available all year.

“The price on sweet potatoes continues to decline. If farmers can not make a living wage, then they will plant other crops,” Long said. “I understand the need for retailers to get the cheapest price possible, but if the quality of the product causes it not to sell, then how did they save money? Nash Produce ships guaranteed quality product at a fair price.”

Today, buyers are responsible for more than one category but Nash Produce provides full service on sweet potato orders, which takes one burden of their desk.

“To be a successful sweet potato distributor, you need to plan ahead,” Long said. “Farming is at the mercy of weather, pests and lack of workers. With this in mind, Nash Produce implements contingency plans to work with farmers to ensure only quality product is delivered to our warehouses. We are in constant contact with our growers and customers, so that problems and concerns can be addressed quickly.”

Nash Produce offers shipments in boxes and bags. The 40-pound boxes are used to ship sweet potatoes for display in the produce departments’ bulk bins, and individual sweet potatoes are shrink wrapped and sold under the Mr. Yam line.

“Consumers are looking for new, convenient and quick,” Long said. “Supermarkets quickly realized that they had the ability to create prepared meals and sell direct from store. Now the consumer does not have to think. They can just pick up a ready to go bag, take it home, cook it, and enjoy.”

Nash Produce is offering its Bonita (tan skin, white flesh) and Murasaki (purple skin, white flesh) sweet potatoes in convenient carry mesh bags.

“Some retailers have tried to sell the white sweet potatoes in bulk, but consumers did not know what to do with them,” Long said. “The new packaging has cooking tips and we are getting positive feedback from consumers.”

Recently, Nash Produce renovated one of its warehouses and now its six-lane Hagan runs from this location. The Hagan takes a picture of every sweet potato and determines its size and weight and then the sweet potato moves on a conveyor belt.

“A few years ago, Nash Produce purchased a 12-lane Hagan to keep up with demand,” Long said. “With the renovations, we now have 18 lanes for packaging. The machine will push the sweet potato down the lane according to that customer’s order. Harvesting and sorting sweet potatoes needs to be completed by workers. Machines can damage the sweet potatoes’ skin, which can cause them to deteriorate quicker.”

Nash Produce will also be headed to the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit later this month and are excited to showcase the new mesh bags; showing customers how it can make receiving sweet potatoes seamless.

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