HomeNewsEgypt builds presence in UK sweet potato market

Egypt builds presence in UK sweet potato market

Egypt keeps increasing exports of sweet potatoes to the UK – the largest market for sweet potatoes in Europe, EastFruit reports. Over the past five seasons, the exports of Egyptian sweet potatoes to the UK have been increasing annually, and they may well reach a new record this season.

In the first seven months of the 2022/23 season (July-January), Egypt exported 28 300 tonnes of sweet potatoes to the UK, which is slightly less than in the previous two seasons. However, due to the gradual lengthening of the season for the supply of sweet potatoes, it is quite likely that exports may reach a new record high this marketing year. Previously, Egyptian exporters almost stopped deliveries of sweet potatoes by winter, but for several years now, there were exports until the beginning of summer.

Read also: Morocco steadily increases exports of superfood  sweet potatoes

The UK is the world’s largest importer of sweet potatoes. It imports about 150 000 tonnes annually and is second only to the Netherlands in sweet potato imports. Although the latter can import up to 190 000 tonnes of sweet potatoes, the largest part of this volume is re-exported to other countries. For comparison, the Netherlands imported 185 000 tonnes of sweet potatoes in 2022 and exported 162 000 tonnes.

The top-3 suppliers of sweet potatoes to the UK market include the US, Egypt, and China. At the same time, the share of US exporters in the British market is declining from year to year for many reasons. First, Hurricane Florence in 2018 caused irreparable damage to sweet potato production in key producing states, and it took quite a long time for the production infrastructure to recover. This made it possible for new supplier countries, including Egypt, to take over the vacant niche.

Secondly, the cost of producing sweet potatoes in Egypt is much lower than in the US, so British importers have gradually switched to Egyptian suppliers. What’s more, Egyptian sweet potato producers have recently been focusing on improving the quality of their products, and the gradual lengthening of the supply season has allowed them to compete directly with the US during previously unusual months.

We also note that in the current season, the drought in Europe that affected the quality of sweet potatoes in Spain, the Netherlands, and some other countries also contributed to the exports of sweet potatoes from Egypt to the UK. In addition, the sharp devaluation of the Egyptian pound in 2022 will continue to support the increase in exports of many products from Egypt, including sweet potatoes.


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