In recent years, sweet potato has become the fourth most consumed vegetable in Brazil. It grew in this ranking, mainly among athletes and sportsmen, due to its composition as an important food in the supply of vitamins and minerals allied to combat chronic diseases. In addition, sweet potatoes have the potential to control sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the blood, and is recommended for monitoring nausea and anemia, increasing immunity, calcium, and treating insomnia, making it a great complement to a healthy diet.  

Wide variety of consumption and availability in Brazil

   Furthermore, the market has innovated in the different ways of consuming the tuber, with numerous by-products such as: sweets, starches, flakes and flours, as well as healthy and tasty snacks such as chips and even vegan alternatives to brigadeiros, mousses, breads and cakes.  

   The Brazilian sweet potato market has been pointed out as a new, but growing and innovative opportunity, as it is still not very competitive. Currently, according to the “Fresh Plaza” global trade platform, the world's largest producers are Mediterranean Africa and China, while the countries that export the most are the United States and the Netherlands.

Growing demand abroad for Brazilian sweet potatoes

   Currently, Brazil occupies a distant place among the largest exporters in the world, but counts Europe and Argentina as its most loyal buyers. In 2019 alone, the country reached a volume of 8.8 thousand tons, according to the “Cultivar” magazine. In the last decade, according to the IBGE, only in the state of São Paulo, the sweet potato planting area tripled and its production doubled, showing the expansion trend for the coming years.  

   Although many countries choose to import from neighboring nations to enhance the quality and freshness of their products, Brazilian sweet potato has conquered many places and has grown a lot in its performance, due to several factors. Among them are the country's favorable climate conditions, which allow the cultivation of four types of sweet potato throughout the year, in addition to the low price of the Brazilian product due to the recent recession and the devaluation of the Brazilian real on the foreign market. Also, in the last year, with a large part of the population at home, the search for homemade and healthy food has also increased. Thus, a price below the market, added to quality and availability regardless of the season, leveraged Brazil against the rest of the sweet potato markets.

   Despite the largest national producer being Rio Grande do Sul, with 186,000 tonnes per year, according to EMBRAPA, followed by Presidente Prudente in São Paulo, known as the “sweet potato capital”, the demand for imports has not yet been met. Sweet potato producers increasingly innovate and recognize the need for a quality crop and irrigated crops, but even so, they have difficulties in competing with the biggest competitors.   

   The versatile Brazilian sweet potato, loved by dieters and essential in the preparation of typical sweets, tends to conquer more and more space in the world market. The current moment puts it in the spotlight compared to other exporters. With an unmet demand, its cultivation has become interesting, while its export has been a safe and favorable alternative in expanding the farmers' market.  

By Karol Colby on 05/07/2021

Sources:

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Sweet potatoes that have been conquering dishes around the world