The increased popularity of sweet potatoes in Europe has prompted producers and importers on the Continent to source from Central America.
“The market, in general, is growing all over the word,” noted Mauro Garcia with Don Limón in Germany. “New concepts of having a healthy life and better nutrition have helped the development of the sweet potato market, even in some cases by replacing the regular potato.” Seeing the potential, Don Limón began producing and selling sweet potatoes under the Don Limón brand and the Potatoe Joe label. They brought white flesh and orange flesh sweet potatoes from Honduras and distribute them throughout Europe, with the U.K., France and Germany being the biggest markets in Europe and Canada being an important market in North America.
“Honduras is becoming well known in the international market,” Mauro said. “I would say that Honduran producers can compete hand-to-hand with the North American sweet potato without problems. Honduras is able to produce as good quality as the North American sweet potato and the market began to notice it. The market is changing and recognizing more the Honduran origin sweet potatoes as high quality.”
Sweet potatoes have become so popular and spurred on new production that he's wary about supply growing faster than demand. But, for now, the market is still favorable. At the moment, he notes stable prices, but as Egyptian sweet potatoes are in the market and Spanish season is about to begin, those prices may have a lower level than usual.
Don Limón is also looking beyond Honduras for its sweet potato program. Several African countries seem like good areas in which to focus production, and there are a few projects in the works. On one hand sweet potatoes are in the focus of development organizations to produce nutritious food for malnourished people, on the other hand this product has an increasing demand in the northern hemisphere. The Don Limón agriculture division launched various production initiatives in Central America and Africa. India is on the screen.
“Close cooperation between producer, scientific institutes, development organizations, processors and retail chains are the ingredients for our “Big project” to combine FAO Program “Feeding the World 2050” and suppling our customers in the northern Hemisphere”, said Don Limón’s CEO Andreas Schindler.
“We are searching and preparing to work with development organizations and build up in several African countries,” said Don Limón’s Nadica Koskarovska. “As part of a pilot stage in the Ivory Coast, we are working on trials to find the right varieties for the production conditions there and expand in the rest of the continent.”