North Carolina Boosts Exports For 'Exotic' Sweet Potatoes

Jun 24, 2015

North Carolina's sweet potato exports have more than doubled in the past decade.
Credit Llez / Wikipedia

Europeans, Brits and Canadians are responding to an aggressive campaign marketing sweet potatoes from North Carolina.

"The sweet potato to them is new, it's like an exotic fruit almost, or an exotic vegetable. They don't know a lot about it," said Kelly McIver of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

North Carolina is America's largest producer of sweet potatoes.

Sue Johnson-Langdon of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission says her organization has worked hard to promote the tuber's versatility, nutritional value and year-round availability.

She says the rising demand is beneficial to farmers, especially those in Eastern North Carolina.

"As tobacco production decreases, it is being replaced by sweet potatoes as well as some other crops, but I think we can well handle it."

About one-quarter of North Carolina's sweet potato crop is shipped abroad. Kelly McIver says the state Agriculture department would like to see that double in the next 10 years.