Seven years ago, Leo Stoker of Q-Cape, in the Netherlands, did an experiment. He imported two containers of South African organic pumpkins. That annual volume has now increased to more than 4,000 tons. This organic products' importer wants to follow the same path with sweet potatoes. "The products are similar. Ten years ago, hardly anyone ate them; now they're wildly popular."
"The sweet potato market has grown considerably in recent years. This product is a great addition for our pumpkin growers all over South Africa. The sweet potato season follows the pumpkin one exactly," continues Leo.
"That makes it very attractive from a labor point of view. Three farmers have now started cultivating extra sweet potatoes. They've mastered the process. They've even built cold stores to ensure good curing."
"We start in mid-April and try to make it to the end of August. We expect to import over 1,500 tons of organic sweet potatoes this season. We're taking a big step, but the market looks promising," says Leo.
"COVID-19 has increased consumers' awareness of their diets. That's drawn even more attention to organic products. The conventional sweet potatoes market is already huge. Organic sweet potatoes have enormous potential too."
Q-Cape gets well-known varieties like Bellevue and Evangeline from South Africa. "Our clients consist mainly of retailers. They're in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Austria. We've partnered with pumpkin processors Dennis and Anja van de Weerd. That's for the sweet potatoes' packaging. They mechanically sort and package this product. We can supply these vegetables in all kinds of sizes and packs, even natural branding. The sorting and packaging line is 100% organic. So, we can deliver exactly what clients want," Leo concludes.