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OPN Connect Newsletter 270 · May 26, 2022

Country Sweet Produce Growing the Value-Added Sweet Potato Category


Country Sweet Produce focuses on value-added products to benefit both retailers and shoppers. As a result, the company recently launched new 14-ounce organic sweet potato steam bags, showcasing the organic sweet potatoes in a bold new way.

“There are three 14-ounce steam bags, and each has a different variety—orange sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, and white sweet potatoes,” said Alexandra Rae Molumby, marketing director for the company. “Each package features recipe inspiration for appetite appeal, nutritional call outs to clearly communicate health benefits to the consumer, and colorful design for increased shelf visibility. We simplified the messaging to be more consumer friendly in terms of the variety they are buying to make it easy to read.”

Global Organics Aug 2022

Alexandra Rae Molumby, Marketing Director, Country Sweet Produce

The company has come a long way since John Valpredo began farming in 1944 and his son Donald Valpredo ventured into growing sweet potatoes in 1998. This was an item that was close to Don’s heart—as when his family immigrated to America from Italy, it was one the best health options his family could afford and incorporate into their daily meals. The nutritional value provided a healthy and sustainable meal for a fraction of the cost of more expensive items.

“There are three 14-ounce steam bags, and each has a different variety—orange sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, and white sweet potatoes.” - Alexandra Rae Molumby

Chelan Aug 2022

In 2006, Michael Valpredo partnered with his father and established Country Sweet Produce, Inc.—an opportunity for the Valpredo family to vertically integrate their farming company.

In 2011, Bako Sweet was created as a premium sweet potato brand in the category, and four years later, Country Sweet Produce was established amongst leaders in organic sweet potatoes.

Bako Sweet offers four different organic sweet potato varieties—O'Henry, Covington, Diane, and Japanese.

Misionero Aug 2022

Michael Valpredo, President and Founder, Country Sweet Produce

“Other growers think we’re crazy—and it’s true,” said Michael Valpredo, president and founder of the company. “We spend an insane amount of time to ensure our organic sweet potatoes are triple washed and consistently sized for a product you can rely on.”

Studies show that around 29 percent of sweet potato buyers noted they selected organic product at least some of the time.

Cal-Organic Aug 2022

“Other growers think we’re crazy—and it’s true. We spend an insane amount of time to ensure our organic sweet potatoes are triple washed and consistently sized for a product you can rely on.” – Michael Valpredo

“Each year we continue to convert our fields to organic due to the increase in demand,” Valpredo said.

Inflationary pressures across the entire supply chain are the number one challenge Country Sweet Produce faces today, according to Matt McCort, vice president and CFO.

Vitalis

Matt McCort, Vice President and CFO, Country Sweet Produce

“Our biggest opportunity in the year ahead is supporting and strengthening our dedicated team,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of the impact inflation and the current economic and social uncertainty can have on our most valuable asset—our people. We have the opportunity and duty to ensure our team is supported during this challenging time, so that they can best support our valued customers and partners.”

“Each year we continue to convert our fields to organic due to the increase in demand.” – Michael Valpredo

Molumby noted consumers value products that offer both freshness and convenience—and that’s a big selling point of the company.

“We harvest and sort our organic sweet potatoes by hand so that you can greet shoppers with a well-organized display of consistently sized, triple-washed, and value-added products,” she said. “Consumers want a quick and easy product that lasts and has the quality they can taste. Bako Sweet will continue to look at value-added options that are packaged in a way that fits in with consumers’ lifestyles. There’s an opportunity to increase consumption by educating consumers on the different organic sweet potato varieties and how to prepare and cook them in delicious new ways that entice and excite consumers.”

“We have the opportunity and duty to ensure our team is supported during this challenging time, so that they can best support our valued customers and partners.” – Matt McCort

This year, Country Sweet Produce is excited to be firming up its team and company structure, with the most qualified team members in the right positions and working in a cohesive way to better serve customers by meeting the challenges of tomorrow.

Stemilt Aug 2022

“Setting this foundation just before we finalize our vertical integration will help us to as consistently as possible execute on our value proposition to delight and inspire customers and consumers alike, from farm to fork,” McCort said. “We are focused on growing the value-added sweet potato category as well as our market share. We are actively planning a multi-year growth strategy.”

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