The Bako Sweet brand recently introduced a merchandising partnership with the well-known character Po and the series Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Night to help stimulate even more sales in the fast-growing sweet potato category.
The partnership was announced at the mid-July Organic Produce Summit in Monterey, California, with point-of-sale materials and posters at the Country Sweet Produce/Bako Sweet booth. Susan Noritake, sales director for the Bakersfield, California firm and its brand, said that the sweet potato category is registering very good year-over-year growth as the product has become more popular as a highly versatile source of flavorful nutrition.
“We have seen sweet potatoes become a year-round category,” she said, adding that Country Sweet Produce has been the leader in many product enhancements. “We provide retailers with variety-specific packaging and uniform pack size with hand-sorted sweet potatoes.”
Susan Noritake, Sales Director, Bako Sweet
“We have seen sweet potatoes become a year-round category.” - Susan Noritake
Noritake said the company was looking for an opportunity to collaborate with a well-known franchise and character, and Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Night and Po heeded the call. Besides announcing the collaboration at OPS, Bako Sweet used its social media platforms to spread the word, including the announcement of a consumer sweepstakes with a cash prize, plus sweet potatoes.
“We are so excited to announce our partnership with ‘Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight’, the new Netflix show, starring the beloved character Po on our bags!” read the sweepstakes announcement, urging consumers to go to the company’s Instagram page to register for a chance to win $5,000 and a one-year supply of sweet potatoes.
The sweepstakes runs from July through October. Noritake said Po, as featured in Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Night, is a trusted character with a big fan base in the United States and around the world.
With the sweet potato category expected to register 5.5 percent annual growth over the next five years, Noritake said consumption is growing, but there is still a lot of consumer education that needs to be accomplished. First and foremost, according to the Bako Sweet representative, is the need to educate consumers that yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing—they do not come from the same plant family, nor do they grow in the same places. “Yams are a root grown in South America,” she explained.
“We are so excited to announce our partnership with ‘Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight’, the new Netflix show, starring the beloved character Po on our bags!” - Bako Sweet
In fact, yams are also often grown in Central America and Africa, but rarely in the United States. Both are nutritious, but yams have a rough, brown scaly skin, while sweet potatoes have a smooth, thin skin that is most commonly orange in color.
Noritake said sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C, are a good source of fiber, and have a low glycemic index, which results in a less immediate impact on blood glucose levels. In fact, despite their name, sweet potatoes can help individuals with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels more stable.
On its packaging, Bako Sweet features the American Heart Association emblem to signify the heart-healthy designation that the brand’s sweet potato offerings have earned.