Egypt is calling the shots in the European market as its sweet potato season that runs from mid-July to January, peaks.
New half-year results for January to July 2023 have ranked sweet potatoes as the current sixth biggest agricultural export from Egypt. During this period, the country has already exported 54,090 metric tonnes of the tuber. Only citrus fruits, potatoes, onions, grapes and beans held sway as bigger exports.
This at a time when Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation recorded a total 5 million metric tonnes (MT) of all agricultural exports, a spike by 18.4% from a similar period in 2022.
This means that the-yet-to-close 2023 market year is set to recapture the annual growth rate in sweet potato production of 4.2%.
The 2023 impressive outlook has been in the black for sometime. In 2022, for example, Egypt emerged as a top 5 sweet potato-exporting country, providing 7.7% of the total global supplies.
The North African Arab nation exported 72,720 MT of sweet potatoes in 2022, worth 81.1 million. The quantity rose significantly from the 2021 exports of 54,223 MT.
The Dutch market is increasingly becoming the final destination for the bulk of Egypt’s orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. In 2022, the Netherlands received 42,000 metric tonnes or 50% of Egypt’s total sweet potato exports.
Though the Netherlands and other European importers only import the root, research in Egypt itself shows a mushrooming industry for shoots and leaves. Egyptian researchers published a paper in April, 2023, on the antidiabetic value of roots, leaves and shoots of this tuber.
Perhaps this is another reason that is driving the spike in production levels. The Dutch market goes almost exclusively for the orange-fleshed variety, which in turn, is the main cultivated cultivar in Egypt. This variety is notable for its high beta-carotene content, a buoying factor for the health-conscious buying public of Europe.
Popular North African cuisine is also making the rounds across the globe, with the sweet potato as a main ingredient. Egyptian- and Moroccan-style grills of lemon and nut-toasted sweet potatoes are growing at eateries as far as in the U.S. This is likely to spike more interest in Egyptian-grown tubers.
Thus, as the organic revolution in the sweet potato market continues, things are looking up for Egyptian supplies. Ultimately, Egypt has given the U.S., the biggest global exporter of sweet potatoes, a run for its money in Europe.