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International Marketing Team Promotes NC Sweet Potatoes in Europe

Recently, Kelly McIver with the International Marketing Department of NCDA accompanied a team to central Europe promoting North Carolina sweet potatoes:

“We went to both France and Germany to review some of the activities that we have had occurring this year. In addition we were part of some events. In France we were part of a chef demonstration, where we had folks from across the industry to talk to and educate chefs, distributors and importers about our product. It helped to create a connection back to the farmers.”

It’s only been about six months since the last trip to this region by the team working on sweet potato exports, and McIver says there’s been quite a change in that short time:

“We have seen sweet potatoes being carried now in stores that just six months ago didn’t have them. Even small local markets only selling a small number of goods, we were seeing sweet potatoes in their offerings. In addition, some stores who had been carrying competitor items, are now selling North Carolina sweet potatoes. It’s very exciting to see the opportunities grow.” 

McIver explains that there are several countries on the European continent that grow sweet potatoes, so most of the marketing effort has been educational:

“There is quite a bit of difference between the competitor sweet potato and the North Carolina one. We have put a lot of energy and time into curing potatoes which leads to a different appearance and taste. Our marketing efforts this year and going forward will focus on what makes ours different, so that these importers will be on the lookout for our products.”

North Carolina is the number one sweet potato growing state in the country, and most of the crop is exported, according to McIver:

“Right now 1 in every 5 rows of sweet potatoes is going to export. Within the next 8-10 years they are expecting that to become every other row. A lot of opportunity is out there.” 

Kelly McIver, member of the International Marketing team with North Carolina Department of Agriculture. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.