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International Sweet Potato Week 2016 kicks off next Monday

Last year, imports of American Sweet Potatoes into Europe rose 35% on 2014, and with their increasing popularity In Europe, as in the US, are expected to increase further this year.

International Sweet Potato Week – taking place March 14 to 24 – will put the spotlight on the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Poland.

An initiative of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission and the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute, the week is designed to convince more consumers, chefs and culinary journalist to cook with sweet potatoes.

During the week, a wide range of information, including recipes, cooking methods and facts about sweet potatoes, will be shared via social media.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the week will kick off with the attendance of the Agricultural Attache of the US Embassy in the Netherlands, Susan Philips.

Over the course of the week, importers, supermarkets, greengrocers and restaurants will give the sweet potato some extra attention in their displays and offer special prices for sweet potatoes as an added incentive for consumers to try them.

Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, vitamins and beta-carotene, and are a diverse vegetable suited to consumption in different ways throughout the day, “from breakfast till dessert,” the weeks’ organisers say.

Last year, imports of American Sweet Potatoes into Europe rose 35% on 2014, and with their increasing popularity In Europe, as in the US, are expected to increase further this year. Thankfully, the storms which raged over the US did not cause as much damage as supply of this product is actually set to increase. According to recent figures from the USDA, the 2015/2016 sweet potato planted area is up 14%, and the harvest will be 5% above that of the previous season.

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US supplies nearly two-thirds of Europe’s sweet potato imports

The popularity of American sweet potatoes in Europe is proven by new figures showing the US is now the source of 63% of sweet potatoes in the EU, up from 49% in 2011.

The popularity of American sweet potatoes in Europe is underscored by new figures showing the US is now the source of 63% of sweet potatoes in the EU, up from 49% in 2011.

In the Benelux, France and Germany alone, the import volume has doubled since 2009 to reach 46,000 tons of US sweet potatoes last year, reflecting growing demand not only in those countries but also in wider Europe. 

Sources of Europe’s sweet potato imports

Sources of Europe's sweet potato imports.png

 

Source: Eurostat 2014

This year’s harvest is now underway in the US, where an increased acreage is set to yield more sweet potatoes than last year. The sweet potato area planted in the US has risen from 115,700 acres in 2013 to 137,300 last year and 137,700 this year. With 75,000 acres planted this year, a 3% increase on 2014, North Carolina remains the leader, followed by the states of Mississippi (22,000 acres) and California (18,000 acres). Planting usually takes place from mid-May to mid-June with harvesting starting in September and ending in October, depending on the weather.

The first containers are expected in Europe in early October, mostly into Rotterdam and largely of the Covington variety but also some Beauregard and Orleans.

The American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute (ASPMI) has completed its first promotional year and Netherlands-based Phaff Export Marketing will continue its promotional work in Europe for ASPMI over the course of 2015/16 as well, during which the American Sweet Potato will be the focus of various consumer events in Belgium and France.