Belgian retail company Colruyt Group has introduced its first sweet potatoes grown in Belgium, which will be on sale at its Colruyt and OKay stores.
The sweet potatoes will be sold as part of a test project run by family-owned food growing business De Aardhappelhoeve in the West-Flemish town of Tielt.
"The transport costs are high and it is less sustainable," said Bart Nemegheer co-founder of De Aardappelhoeve. "So I thought: what if we tried it here? Then there would be daily supplies, close to home."
Sweet potatoes are becoming increasingly popular in Belgium. However, they are most often imported from America or Africa, since they are a tropical plant. They're also not related to the original potato, which is widely produced in Europe.
According to Nemegheer, the recent milder weather and the sandy-loamy soil in the Flemish region are ideal for the sweet potatoes of the ‘beauregard’ variety.
“Despite the cool summer, the harvest was a success,” said Nemegheer. “We simply harvested a little later, in October.”
According to Lutgard Massaer, the buyer of sweet potatoes for Colruyt Group, the Belgian sweet potato presents a valuable asset.
"I have been buying sweet potatoes from Senegal, the United States and Spain for years now," he said. "Clearly, the product is on the rise. That is why we seized the proposal of De Aardappelhoeve to set up a test project."
“With the volume the growers of Reo Veiling and Belorta supply, our customers will find the first Belgian sweet potatoes at Colruyt and OKay during the months of December and January (according to availability),” Massaer added. "I have followed the production in Belgium closely. If the test is a success, the production will be expanded next season."
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.