Egypt continues to increase exports of sweet potatoes to the UK – the largest sweet potato market in Europe – reports EastFruit. Over the past five seasons, exports of Egyptian sweet potatoes to the UK have increased annually, and this season may well reach a new record.
In the first seven months of the 2022/23 season (July-January), Egypt exported 28,300 tons of sweet potatoes to the UK, which is slightly less than in the previous two seasons. However, due to the gradual extension of the season for the supply of sweet potatoes, it is very likely that exports will be able to reach a new record high this marketing season. Previously, Egyptian exporters almost stopped deliveries of sweet potatoes by winter, but for several years exports have been carried out until the beginning of summer.
The UK is the world’s largest importer of sweet potatoes. It imports about 150,000 tons annually and is the second largest importer of sweet potatoes after the Netherlands. Although the Netherlands can import up to 190,000 tonnes of sweet potatoes, most of it is exported to other countries. For comparison, the Netherlands imported 185,000 tons of sweet potatoes in 2022 and exported 162,000 tons.
Among the top-3 suppliers of sweet potatoes to the UK market are the USA, Egypt and China. At the same time, the share of American exporters in the UK market is falling from year to year for various reasons. First, hurricane Florence in 2018 caused irreparable damage to the cultivation of sweet potatoes in key growing states, and it took quite a long time to restore the production infrastructure. This allowed New growing countries, including Egypt, to take over the vacated niche.
Secondly, the cost of growing sweet potatoes in Egypt is much lower than in the USA, so British importers have gradually switched to Egyptian suppliers. In addition, Egyptian sweet potato producers have recently focused on improving the quality of their products, and the gradual extension of the supply season has allowed them to compete directly with the US during previously unusual months.
In the current season, the drought in Europe that has affected the quality of sweet potatoes in Spain, The Netherlands and some other countries has also contributed to the export of sweet potatoes from Egypt to the United Kingdom. In addition, the strong devaluation of the Egyptian pound in 2022 will continue to support the increase in exports of many products from Egypt, including sweet potatoes.