When Australia went into lock down there was an initial big spike in demand for most products, fresh or otherwise, but the market seems to have calmed down now.
“In the weeks after the lock down demand was quite erratic and very difficult to predict,” according to Damian Botha from Sweet Potatoes Australia. ”It has now stabilised and sales are around what we would expect at this time of the year, in some lines a little higher.
“We’re beginning to move into some cooler weather which is always good for demand. After 4-6 weeks of wet weather earlier in the year, followed by sunshine and good temperatures, growers have an abundant supply and are seeing strong yields. Around 80% of Australia’s sweet potato production takes place in here Bundaberg, Queensland. The increased production means that the domestic market is well supplied, giving us the opportunity to support the increase in demand from export markets.”
Processing markets took a huge hit as lock downs came into place, with hotels and restaurants around the world closing. “Initially processing demand dropped quite dramatically, resulting in difficulty moving some of the large material that growers serve these markets with. In the last week however, we’re seeing orders beginning to increase again globally, which is a very positive sign.”
“On the retail front, steady export has continued into the UK, UAE, Thailand and some European markets for premium lines. Sweet Potatoes Australia has containers going to these markets each and every week, with the demand in recent weeks beginning to rise again.”
“The availability of containers is good, but in the early weeks we were still seeing the impact of the shut down in China. Longer sailing times have been inevitable, with clearance at borders taking longer, but we are still booking and sending containers week to week.”
“We like to think of sweet potato as a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert vegetable. Sweet potato toast, or salad and everything though to sweet potato ice cream, you can put it in so many meals. Consumers are also becoming more creative in the kitchen as they have more time during lock down, we are trying to support this by providing lots of recipes via social media from our resident chef and product development team. This strong engagement is great to see, it also helps that sweet potatoes are not as perishable as some other products, so they can be stored for a couple of weeks.”
“Sales in sweet potatoes around the world have seen ongoing very positive growth in recent years. With the majority of this organic growth, it’s important we continue to promote all of the great benefits of Sweet Potato and its year-round availability.”