Skinning of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) storage roots is one of the greatest concerns of sweetpotato producers. Although skinning injury is very common, the severity of the injury can vary widely. At an undefined threshold, sweetpotatoes with skinning injury are no longer sold for fresh consumption. The objectives of this study were to examine how skinning injury influences consumers’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for sweetpotatoes and to identify differences in valuations when the extent of skinning injury is labeled. Image analysis was used to quantify skinning injury and then an incentive-compatible, nonhypothetical laboratory experimental auction was conducted to collect data on consumers’ WTP for five categories of sweetpotatoes: 0% to <1% skinning injury, 1.0% to 3.0%, 3.1% to 5.0%, 5.1% to 7.5%, and 7.6% to 10.0%. On average, consumers were willing to pay the most for sweetpotatoes with 0% to <1% skinning injury (up to $1.51/lb to $1.67/lb) and the least for sweetpotatoes with 7.6% to 10% (up to $0.76/lb to $0.85/lb), yet mean WTP values were nonzero for all skinning levels. Moreover, when the extent of skinning was labeled (relative to when they bid blindly), consumers were willing to pay price premiums for sweetpotatoes with low skinning injury levels (0% to 5%) and discounted sweetpotatoes with the highest skinning injury level (7.6% to 10.0%), suggesting that skinning levels of 7.6% and above may not be acceptable by consumers.
A traditional dairy-based frozen dessert (ice cream) was developed with three levels of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) puree [20%, 30%, and 40% (by weight)] to determine the impact of sweetpotato content on product functionality, nutritional content, and sensory characteristics. Increased sweetpotato puree resulted in increased orange color, flavor intensity, and sweetpotato flavor, but 40% puree proved difficult to incorporate into the mixture. Additionally, nondairy frozen desserts containing 30% sweetpotato puree were compared with a milk-based control in which all ingredients were the same except that milk was replaced with soy (Glycine max) and almond (Prunus dulcis) milk. Consumer acceptability tests were conducted with panelists at Mississippi State University (n = 101) and in Pontotoc, MS (n = 43). Panelists in Pontotoc rated the overall acceptability of all three frozen desserts the same, but they preferred the appearance of the milk-based frozen dessert over that of soy- and almond-based milk alternatives. According to the panelists at Mississippi State, the milk-based frozen dessert had greater overall acceptability and aroma than the almond-based dessert and a preferential texture and appearance compared with the soy- and almond-based desserts. Milk-, soy-, and almond-based frozen desserts were rated as “slightly liked” or better by 92%, 80%, and 69% of the panelists, respectively.