Sweet Potatoes


Published: 10/12/2012

by The Guide 2012


Sweet Potatoes

Top 5 Things You Need to Know

  • Taste: Sweet potatoes have a sweet, starchy flavor, with a creamy texture.
  • Selection: Shoppers should look for sweet potatoes that are firm to the touch and are heavy for their size. Avoid sweet potatoes with soft spots.
  • Use: Sweet potatoes are most often cooked and eaten as a side dish. They can be baked, boiled or fried and can also be used in some desserts.
  • Merchandising: Help your shoppers care for their sweet potatoes correctly at home. Let them know they should keep sweet potatoes out of the refrigerator.
  • Health: Sweet potatoes have a high concentration of carotenoids. Carotenoids, including the vitamin A precursor beta carotene, have been found to protect against carcinogens and preserve night vision.


On the shelves


There are several varieties of sweet potatoes, but the differences are not noticeable to the average consumer.



Sweet potatoes do best in moist air, so consider offering perforated polyethylene bags or overwrapped trays to prevent drying. Don’t stack sweet potatoes to high to prevent them from falling off the display.



Grab the eye of your shoppers by using high-graphic cartons and tray packs for waterfall displays. Cater to all customers by offering both bagged and bulk product. For most of the year, place sweet potatoes near other potatoes, but when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, give sweet potatoes a more prominent place near the front of the department.


Making the sale


Cross-merchandise sweet potatoes with all the fixings for sweet potato casserole – marshmallows, nuts and brown sugar. Cross-promote with vegetable oil to encourage consumers to make sweet potato fries.



Use samples of sweet potato pie to get consumers thinking about using sweet potatoes in baked goods.


Seasonal promotions

Sweet potatoes are a natural addition to fall and winter holiday displays. Display with other holiday staples, such as cranberries and green beans. Give customers a one-stop display for their holiday produce needs.

Keep your sweet potatoes moving in the spring by including them in Easter displays.


On the plate

Sweet potatoes are traditionally served baked. Bake at400 Ffor 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Before baking, rub a little butter on the skin to make it softer. Sweet potatoes may be boiled for 20 to 30 minutes, but do not steam. Sweet potato fries have become increasingly popular. Offer them in place of regular french fries. Always use a stainless steel knife and cool water when cutting sweet potatoes to keep them from darkening.



1 lb. = 3 medium sweet tomatoes

1 lb. = 1¾ cups mashed


Nutrition and health

Health benefits

Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, which helps to keep eyes and skin healthy.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, which can help fight cancer and boost the immune system.


Nutrient content descriptors

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for sweet potatoes: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very low sodium, cholesterol-free, a good source of fiber, high in vitamin A and high in vitamin C.


At the register

Common PLUs

4816 – golden

4074 – red/orangy red, small

4817 – red/orangy red, large

3333 – red/orangy white, small

3334 – red/orangy white, large

4091 – white


In the backroom


40-lb. cartons

20-lb. cartons

10-lb. cartons

5-lb. poly bags

5-lb. carton, individual wrap

3-lb. poly bags

RPC - 3414, 3417, 6419, 6420



United Statesgrades

U.S.extra No. 1

U.S.No. 1


U.S.No. 2



Louisiana grades

Louisianacommercial (has same requirements as U.S. No. 2)

Louisianajumbo (has same requirements as U.S. No. 2, except it cannot weight less than16 oz.)


North Carolinagrades

U.S. No. 1 medium (has same requirements as U.S. No. 1)

U.S.No. 1 small (has same requirements as U.S. No. 1, except maximum diameter cannot exceed 2¼ inches)



  • Temperature: 55 to60 F, 13-15.6 C
  • Relative humidity: 85-90%
  • Mist: no
  • Typical shelf life: 10 to 14 days after packaging (before packaging, sweet potatoes store well under proper conditions for 52 weeks)
  • Ethylene-sensitive (Do not store or transport ethylene-sensitive items with commodities that produce ethylene.)
  • Highly sensitive to freezing injury. (Likely to suffer injury by one light freezing.)
  • Susceptible to chilling injury (Damage sometimes is not apparent until produce is returned to a higher temperature.)
  • If stored for any length of time, sweet potatoes must first be cured for about four to five days at85 F,30 C, with a relative humidity of 85-90% or above.
  • Do not refrigerate.


Fresh Trends 2012

  • Nearly 50% of consumers bought sweet potatoes in the past 12 months.
  • The likelihood of purchasing sweet potatoes increases with age, with those 59 and older the most likely to purchase them at 59% compared with just 41% of those aged 21-39.
  • Consumers in the Northeast are the most likely to purchase sweet potatoes at 56%, followed by consumers living in the South at 50%.



Pounds sold in 2011 – 293,238,812

Pounds sold in 2010 – 300,098,465


Average retail price per pound in 2011 – $1.19

Average retail price per pound in 2010 – $1.17


Retail sales in 2011 -- $348,213,713               Percent of total produce sales 2011 – 1%

Retail sales in 2010 -- $352,226,847               Percent of total produce sales 2010 – 1%


Figures do not include Wal-Mart sales.

Source: FreshLook Marketing