George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., in Chadbourn, NC, is in a celebratory mood this year in celebration of its rebranding initiative. It has rebranded its line of sweet potatoes and other items from its past “Playboy” brand to the new “George Foods” brand, using Mr. Wooten’s father’s signature as its logo.
The company is also known for its generosity, especially during times of the year when people are most in need.
“We offer a 10-pound box of sweet potatoes,” said Mr. Wooten. “We have always been involved in fund raisers for people in need in our community. This box was designed so that people can offer it as a gift or donate it to food kitchens and food pantries. It’s a gift that really lights people up, and they are get very excited when someone offers it to them.”
The 10-pound box carries the company’s “We Be Yammin’” label, that it reserves for special uses. The box is also available with the “Green Giant” label from Wayne E. Bailey.
“We go through between 20,000 and 30,000 thousand 10-pound boxes during the holidays,” said Mr. Wooten. “As a company we also donate them to schools, and we make them available to retailers across the country who are interested in using it to promote their own fundraiser, or even to sell them to customers as a 10-pound box.”
The box sells for around $8.00, but it serves between 16 and 18 people, making it “one heck of a gift” in Mr. Wooten’s words.
Wayne E. Bailey is a major producer, marketer and shipper of sweet potatoes, which means that Thanksgiving a really busy time for the company. Mr. Wooten said that the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving were the busiest two days of the year.
“The week before Christmas could be our second busiest period of the year,” he said. “The crop is holding good, and the stored potatoes are coming out in excellent condition. We had a little better crop this year than we’ve had in the past two years, so that’s good news given the increase in demand for sweet potatoes. The inventory is now all in house, and we’re now just sitting back and feeding America.”
He also said that this year could be a bit different than other years regarding sweet potato sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. November sales for the company were up by 20 percent this year, and Thanksgiving was early. That could mean that there may be a little downswing for a couple of days, or it could mean that people are loving their sweet potatoes so much that they’ll keep buying them strongly throughout the holiday season.
“We did see a tremendous foodservice business increase in sweet potatoes just prior to Thanksgiving because restaurants are gearing up for Black Friday, when almost everyone who is out shopping also eats out,” he noted.
He also pointed out that retailers do a “mixed bag” of promotions for the holidays. Most all go out on ad for Thanksgiving with door-buster prices.
“They don’t seem to come on as strong at Christmas,” he said. “With everyone buying sweet potatoes, should they really be selling them at the lowest possible prices? They don’t promote as strong at Christmas, but it’s also a great opportunity, as is New Years because it is an extension of the holidays.
“People try to meet and eat with friends and family members throughout the entire holiday period,” Mr. Wooten continued. “And the entire period is a perfect time to promote sweet potatoes.”
Adding a sincere note, Mr. Wooten said, “George Wooten and the entire family and staff at Wayne E. Bailey wish that everyone’s days be merry and their ‘taters be sweet.”