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Product General

Sweet Potato Guide

Oct 21, 2021
Edited by
Yerin Yoon
image
HS Code: 071420 - Vegetable roots and tubers; sweet potatoes, with high starch or inulin content, fresh, chilled, frozen or dried, whether or not sliced or in the form of pellets
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FAO Code: 0122 - Sweet potatoes
Top Exporter
2020
US flagUnited States
Top Importer
2020
NL flagNetherlands
Top Producer
2019
CN flagChina
Export Value
2020
709.75MUSD
1Y -1.73%
Import Value
2020
753.05MUSD
1Y +1.53%

Key varieties

What are the common varieties of sweet potatoes?

  • Batata sweet potatoes: This dry-fleshed sweet potato is rounder than American sweet potato types and has a mottled red-purple skin
  • Boniato (Cuban sweet potatoes): A boniato is a white sweet potato similar to a batata. Boniatos can be found in Hispanic markets, especially in Cuban neighborhoods
  • Jersey sweet potatoes: There are several varieties of dry-fleshed sweet potato that include Jersey in their varietal name (for example, Big Stem Jersey and Little Stem Jersey)
  • Kumara sweet potatoes: Another tropical sweet potato, kumara, is what the sweet potato is called in New Zealand. The kumara has red skin and white flesh
  • White sweet potatoes: This is a generic term used to identify loosely called tropical sweet potatoes. Their flesh is lighter in color than orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • Yams: Moist-fleshed sweet potatoes are often called “yams,” but this is a misnomer. Yams are a completely different starchy tuber. Nonetheless, common usage has made the term “yam” acceptable when referring to sweet potatoes
United States
Sweet Potato

Production Seasonality

What is the general harvesting season for sweet potatoes?

In December 2020, Egypt, Australia, and Argentina are currently in season.




[Vietnam]

The North of Vietnam, on the other hand, has a monsoonal climate with a cold winter from November to February. Therefore, typically there are three main production seasons for sweet potato in this season: 1) Winter-Spring season with plantation time from November - December and harvesting time from April - May next year; 2) Winter season with plantation time from September - October and harvesting time from January - February next year and 3) Spring season with plantation time from February - March and harvesting time from June - July.


[Malaysia]

Sweet potatoes can be grown throughout the year, but drought can be avoided if farmers want to reduce their losses because every time, drought is reduced by 30% if not supplied enough water.


[Philippines]

Sweet potato is usually planted at the beginning of the rainy season (June - November). But for areas with no distinct wet and dry season and having evenly distributed rainfall, the sweet potato could be planted any time of the year.


[United States]

The production of sweet potatoes in the US also occurs during the dormant season in Louisiana from July to October (Stark, 2019).


[Uganda]

  • Sweet Potato in Uganda is grown year-round in the equatorial region. It is cultivated during the first rainy season from March to June.
  • Sweet Potato is also grown during the second rainy season, which occurs from August to November.
  • Sweet Potato is planted at the beginning of the rainy season and cultivated further into the dry season as possible in the country’s northern regions further from the equator.
  • Peak harvest periods of Sweet Potatoes have been identified to be in September to November, and scarcity being the months of February to June.
Argentina
Sweet Potato

Price Trend

How is the supply and demand for sweet potatoes in the global market?

Unlike last year, when the supply was reduced, this season's harvest in 2020 in the US could be considered average. In addition to supplies from the US’s southwestern states, the market also has sweet potatoes from Spain and Egypt. Many countries have a modest harvest of their own available. Despite the loss of demand from the foodservice sector, retailers are absorbing good volumes. The price has risen almost everywhere due to the coronavirus. A political factor also plays a role in world trade: the EU has imposed import duties on sweet potatoes from the US, among other products. The levies have thus increased from 3% to 28%.


Here are the global market conditions of sweet potato in 2020:

  • The Netherlands: There is currently an adequate supply of sweet potatoes on the market, not just from European countries but also from suppliers such as Egypt and North America.
  • United Kingdom: Storms in Honduras have not affected the import of sweet potatoes from this Central American country, and the leading imports will arrive January-February 2021
  • Spain: Despite the sweet potato boom of recent years, the acreage in Spain has been reduced by 10-15% this season
  • Brazil: With US sweet potatoes currently subject to tariffs from the EU, the demand from Europe for the Brazilian variety is expected to increase, and the demand from the European market is now more stable than usual
  • United States: There is currently a plentiful supply of sweet potatoes on the market. A grower from Louisiana says to be satisfied with his harvest this year, with a greater abundance of large sizes (the jumbos). Despite the hurricanes Laura and Delta in August, the harvest is good. In general, the production volume is average across North America.
  • China: The market demand exceeds the supply due to the delay in the production season because of sudden temperature drops and excessive rainfall
  • New Zealand: Sweet potato is called Kumara in NZ. Consumer spending on the Kumara in 2019 was nearly NZD 50 million (EUR 29.2 million). It also reports that the domestic value was approximately NZD 55 million (EUR 32 million) in 2018.

Source: 

Overview global sweet potato market

United States
Sweet Potato

What are the key factors that determine the prices of sweet potatoes?

  • Weather changes
  • Shipping and international transport for exporting sweet potato
  • Demand fluctuation in major export destination countries and supply volume
  • Harvesting volume due to drought
  • Crop disease, insect and pest-related
  • Fertilizer, production cost
  • Trade policies and agreements
  • Rainfall
  • Sweet Potato sizes and grades
  • Various Sweet potato end products demand such as culinary.
United States
Sweet Potato
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