The situation regarding Swiss sweet potatoes is rather difficult at the moment. The season and its weather patterns is very demanding for the growers of producer cooperative Batati Ltd. "The sweet potatoes were partly planted with 2-3 weeks delay, because the soil was not passable in the first planting weeks due to a wet end of May. The comparatively cool and, above all, very wet summer further delayed the development of this heat-loving plant," says Managing Director Simon van der Veer.
Fresh tubers from Swiss production / T. Jaworr.
This was compounded by the extraordinary hail storm of June 28, 2021, where over 30% of the land was affected. According to Van der Veer, the hail in some cases led to massive leaf drop, which meant that the plants first had to form new leaves in order to continue assimilating. "This interaction meant that the start of sales did not take place until mid-October, about 4 weeks later than in a 'normal' year. At the same time, we have to assume major yield losses in some fields. The number of tubers per plant and the quality are good, but the tuber weight is rather below average. Overall, the yield is disappointing, yet not surprising against the background of the weather."
Storage and processing at the site in Fräschels, which came on stream in 2020, has more than proved its worth, Van der Veer says. "Modern warehouses and short distances mean that work can be done rationally. Only unfortunately, due to the weather, we will not be able to fully utilize the plant for the second year in a row."
Clearing / T. Jaworr.
Establishment on the fresh and industrial market
Today, the company, which was founded in 2014, is unlikely to develop new sweet potato products. "Experience shows that sweet potatoes are in demand for retail and, to some extent, for industrial processing, especially large-crop. Sales of small sweet potatoes and second quality sweet potatoes work sparsely. Processed products are tasty and innovative, so far Batati Ltd has not been able to launch them successfully in the retail market. The number one obstacle is always the price. Therefore, the question of expansion into neighboring countries does not arise. Agricultural goods produced under Swiss conditions hardly make it into the export market at all, for price reasons."
Processing / Photo: T. Jaworr.
This year's harvest in the final lap
Still to come is the harvest of the last approximately 6 ha of sweet potatoes and, accordingly, the sale of the quantities stored and to be stored so far."
At the same time, planning for 2022 is underway and we hope that this will be a sweet potato year for the history books - with full boxes and good qualities," Van der Veer predicts.