The sweet potato harvest season in southern Spain, which started in late August, has only just ended with similar average prices to those registered last year, but also with a positive trend. The weather conditions were suitable for its development and yields per hectare have been normal, according to Juan Manuel Rodriguez, manager of Frusana, the largest producer and trader of sweet potatoes intended for fresh consumption in Spain.
The cooperative, based in San Lucar de Barrameda, Cadiz, has increased its production by about 30% compared to last year, reaching 10,000 tonnes. In general, the sector has recorded an increase in volume of between 15 and 20%, and a similar growth is expected in the following year.
"Given the growing demand for sweet potatoes, we've had to increase our production compared to last season. Still, we have been forced to buy about 15% from other producers outside the cooperative in order to meet the needs of consumers," explains Juan Manuel Rodríguez.
The main destinations for the sweet potatoes are the domestic and European markets. "In Spain, there are specific moments in the campaign when consumption reaches considerable levels, especially in the area of the Levant. As for exports, the main destinations are Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK," he affirms.
According to Juan Manuel, "while per capita consumption in Spain and Europe is still low compared to Latin American countries like Argentina, the use of sweet potatoes is becoming widespread and their popularity is on the rise, leading to growing demand for both fresh consumption and for its use in the processing industry. More and more supermarkets are adding sweet potatoes to their range. We have noticed a significant increase in demand every year."
The challenge is to extend the campaign by improving preservation
The sweet potato sector seeks to further advance in the area of post-harvest preservation.
"Every year we improve the storage conditions for sweet potatoes. Our goal is to try extending the campaign as much as possible, as there are supermarket chains that demand the product all year round. Between January and May, sweet potatoes are imported from the United States and I think we could actually fill this gap in the future. It is one of the main challenges of the sector and will remain so in the future, since consumption in Europe is guaranteed. We've carried out tests, but we have yet to discover the most optimal conditions to significantly extend the product's shelf life."
At the moment, the three most widely planted varieties are the California, Beaurregard and Georgia Jets.
For more information:
Juan Manuel RodríguezFrusana S.C.A
S/N 11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz. SPAIN
T: +34 956 360 231+34 956 360 email@example.com