Ralf Settels of Jiahe Food Europe Ltd on the import and distribution of organic sweet potatoes

"Through our network of suppliers in Spain, Portugal and Israel, we are able to deliver year-round"

Organic sweet potatoes are now nearing the end of the season. "High-quality sweet potatoes from Portugal are still being loaded, so we will not finish this year's marketing season until the end of the month. After that, we will seamlessly continue with goods from Israel, which we expect to offer in June as well as July. We will then start again with new products from Spain, so that we will be able to deliver throughout the year," says Ralf Settels, Managing Director of Jiahe Food Europe Ltd, based in Erkelenz.

In contrast to the pleasing supply situation, demand in the organic sector is rather restrained at the moment, he says. "The consumer has become very price-sensitive due to inflation and increased costs. This is reflected precisely in buying behavior, as people are very focused on special offers. Nevertheless, we have recently been able to do some promotions with organic sweet potatoes that have given us the desired results," says Settels. In terms of price competition, Portuguese products are usually slightly cheaper than Spanish goods and somewhat more expensive than those from Egypt. The first batches from Israel are usually priced a little higher.

Jiahe Group, which operates internationally, has only been offering organic sweet potatoes from Israel for a few years. "We are now facing the third marketing season and the total volume has remained stable every year so far." The Israeli produce is mainly needed to fill the supply gap in June and July, as there are now few origins left on the European market in mid-summer, he said. Settels: "The U.S. is still on the market during this period, and there are also isolated Spanish leftover stocks."

Sweet potatoes of the Beauregard variety are labeled using a laser process and are mainly offered loose at the POS. The bulk is supplied to food retailers, with the remainder going to wholesalers and retailers.

Water problems jeopardize sweet potato cultivation
Similar to many other crops, the weather is putting extreme pressure on the cultivation of sweet potatoes as well, as these consist of up to 70 percent water. "In southern Spain in particular, heat and weather extremes tend to make it more difficult to grow a water-intensive crop like sweet potatoes. Accordingly, we must expect further price increases." He said it is difficult to estimate at this time whether the high temperatures will also lead to shortages of Spanish sweet potatoes this year. This is also linked to other factors, such as disease pressure and harvest conditions.

Ralf Settels (r) at Fruit Logistica 2023.

Ginger: Tighter EU controls make organic imports more difficult
For many years now, ginger has been the main product of Jiahe Food Europe. However, importing organic ginger from China, the main source country, has become considerably more difficult over the years, Settels said. "We are facing an exciting season this year, as controls have been tightened again, especially on organic products of Chinese origin. Peru is also focusing more and more on exports to the U.S., which is why export volumes for the EU market are tending to decline. Accordingly, we as Jiahe Group are already in the process of developing new growing countries, especially in Africa, so that we can continue to offer organic ginger in the future."

Images: Jiahe Food / Kibbutz Nirim

For more information:
Ralf Settels
Jiahe Food Europe GmbH
Luxemburger Str. 9
D-41812 Erkelenz
+49 2431 9724212

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.