A Queensland sweet potato grower is hoping that low prices due to an oversupply of the gold variety will improve over the next few months.
Windhum Farms, which is owned by Linda and Darren Zunker, says there has been a number of contributing factors to the glut in supply; It has been a "fantastic" growing season, with very little crop loss, unlike past years from major weather events. In addition, the new variety ‘Bellevue’ has proven to be extremely high yielding, and there have been new growers who planted large volumes, and some existing growers planting more area than usual.
"We should see a small rise in sweet potato prices due to dry weather, and many farmers receiving crop damage from frost over winter," Mrs Zunker said. "Come January/February when we all start picking new season crop, prices will again drop back but hopefully not as low as below cost of production like they have over the last few months."
She adds that consumption of all vegetables is in slight decline, and most frozen sweet potatoes products, such as fries and wedges, are imported.
Located in Bundaberg, Queensland, Windhum Farms specialises in producing premium grade gold sweet potatoes year round. The fourth-generation family farmers supply two gold varieties as well as the Red, Hawaiian and Bonita into fresh Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth wholesale markets.
"Our business focus is on growing a premium quality product for our consumers, rather than producing large volumes of sweet potato," Mrs Zunker said. "Windhum Farms sweet potato labels ‘Bundaberg Gold’ and ‘Hummock Road’ are our core business lines, but we also grow watermelons, sweet corn as well as continuing to plant macadamia nut orchards to diversify our business. We grow across six different farms in the area to maintain our ability to grow and harvest sweet potatoes 12 months of the year."
Mrs Zunker says sweet potato has been labelled a superfood, and consumption has been on a steady rise for many years, but has reached a small plateau.
"Sweet potato ticks almost all the boxes when it comes to healthy eating, and would be the most versatile vegetable ever," she said. "Consumers just need to be educated on how to modify their favourite recipes to include them in everything from ice-cream to cakes, wedges to curries. It is the base for most baby foods, suitable for diabetics, a staple for body builders and a fantastic vegetable to be included in any healthy everyday meal."
All growers contribute to a voluntary marketing levy to promote our products through Australian Sweet potatoes, to provide consumers with new recipe ideas and outline the many health benefits of eating it as a regular staple, mainly through their "Supercharge You Meal" ideas campaign. This can be found at www.australiansweetpotatoes.com.au