With strong demand for sweet potatoes, prices have increased and will likely continue to rise.
“Domestic supplies of sweet potatoes are moving. Retail is moving heavily,” says Oscar Avila-Carrillo of Market Brothers LLC in Mansfield, OH. “Foodservice is a bit slow. I’d say it’s 1:5 in loads comparing foodservice to retail.”
What is notable is increasingly strong international demand for sweet potatoes. “The international market is doing pretty well. The price is pretty competitive to what it is here domestically,” says Avila-Carrillo, noting that there’s particular strength in European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, England and others. “Overseas will be something really big for U.S. sweet potatoes because they’re making good offers. There are new markets coming in every year,” says Avila-Carrillo. “They like the U.S. product. They’re also buying from Egypt and other countries but they like the quality of the U.S. sweet potatoes.”
End of crop product
In overall volume, Avila-Carrillo notes that supplies are similar to last year at this time. “I think there’s a little more but not too many more than last year,” he says. “They are starting to run out or if they aren’t out, you’re getting to the end of the crop where you’ll start having more quality issues.” Supplies right now are largely coming from North Carolina and Mississippi.
As for price, Avila-Carrillo says it isn’t matching the quality of the potatoes at the end of the crop. “Once it gets towards the end of the crop, suppliers try to get the best bang for their buck. They drive the prices up, but the quality is going down,” he says. “Pricing is a little high. It should be better because quality is getting worse.”
He says that looking ahead, he anticipates pricing continuing to rise. “Last year, the prices kept going up until late August or September,” he says.