Regarded as a “superfood” lately, sweet potato has become another export crop for Morocco, according to EastFruit. In just a few years, Moroccan exporters launched the exports of sweet potatoes literally from scratch, entering the premium markets of the EU countries and the Middle East.
In recent years, Morocco has increased the exports of sweet potatoes by on average 67% annually, and in 2022 it doubled the volume of its supplies reaching a record 1 200 tonnes. For comparison, in 2017, Morocco exported only 90 tonnes, and a year later, exports were a minimum in recent years – 23 tonnes.
Moreover, it was 2022 that became the first year in the history of Morocco when sweet potatoes were exported without interruption – monthly. In addition, the country managed to stretch the peak of its supplies, although it used to be mainly in June-July. Morocco also entered 2023 with a new record – exports of sweet potatoes almost quadrupled to 130 tonnes in January!
The geography of exports of sweet potatoes from Morocco is noteworthy, too. Almost 100% of exports in 2017 were delivered to the German market, but then the supplies practically stopped. The combined share of Spain and France in the structure of Moroccan exports is also quite low, although these two countries are often listed among the largest importers of other products. As for the export of sweet potatoes from Morocco, the share of Spain and France in it has not exceeded 4% since 2019.
In 2022, the list of the Top-3 largest consumers of Moroccan sweet potatoes included the Netherlands, Portugal, and the UK, with the latter importing them from Morocco for the first time. The Netherlands has also significantly increased its imports of Moroccan sweet potatoes (almost ninefold since 2021), one of the reasons being the launch of projects on their production in the country with the help of Dutch specialists and investors.
As for the countries of the Middle East, the volume of deliveries of Moroccan sweet potatoes remains relatively small, but it is growing rapidly. In 2022, this region imported about 9 tonnes of sweet potatoes from Morocco, with Qatar and Bahrain being the main consumers.
Recall that the EU, the Middle East, and the countries of Southeast Asia are the three main regions of the world where the demand for premium quality sweet potatoes will grow at a rapid pace. Morocco has a strong presence in the EU countries, and in 2022 it took the first steps to open the market of the Persian Gulf countries.
The growth in the consumption of sweet potatoes and other tubers and root crops similar to it in properties and uses, grouped under the HS code 0714, is based on two key factors.
First, most import growth in these categories (many of which are “superfoods”) comes from countries where consumers are health conscious, positive about new tastes and experiences, and willing to pay a premium price for it.
Secondly, the import of these products is growing in countries with a high proportion of ethnic minorities, for which sweet potatoes, taro, yam, or, for example, chufa are a part of the national cuisine that plays the same role that, say, conventional potatoes for Europeans.
In addition, the global market segment of these categories presents much more interesting opportunities for new players. Since 2013, trade in sweet potatoes and other products under HS code 0714 has grown annually by 8%, while global imports of conventional potatoes, on the contrary, have decreased by 1% year on year.
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