Analysis and Studies - Products analysis

Sweet potatoes: import and export

Even though they have similar names, sweet potatoes are not potatoes: they are not tubers but their roots. They originated in Central and South America and by the time Columbus arrived, they were not found growing wild, but had been cultivated from indigenous people. However, some traces were found in Polynesia, suggesting that travelers brought this food with them due to their nutritious benefits that would have been helpful during the difficult journey across the Pacific Ocean. In fact, they can improve vision, gut health, and production of sugars. Sweet potatoes arrived in Europe through Columbus, but they were not immediately appreciated as food, unlike in China where their potential was recognized earlier. Their color has many variations: the peel can be brown, purple, red; the flesh white, yellow, orange.

In 2022, sweet potatoes were the world's 2509th most traded product, with a total trade of $744M. Between 2021 and 2022 the exports decreased by -0.74%, from $749M to $744M.

In 2022 the United States was the leading exporter (24.7%), ahead of the Netherlands (18.5%), Egypt (15.1%), China (6.54%), and Spain (5.77%).                                              Whereas the top importer was the Netherlands (18.3%), followed by United Kingdom (11.6%), Germany (10.6%), Canada (8.22%), and France (6.39%).

Leading exporters have diversified markets, indicating a strategic approach to distribution: for example, the United States primarily exports to Canada, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom, while Egypt's top importers are the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia.


Some exporters, like Spain, show regional preferences: in fact, a significant portion of their exports goes to France, possibly due to regional trade agreements. The interdependence between exporters and importers is clear: for example United Kingdom is a key destination for multiple exporters, including the United States, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Spain.

  1. United states (24.7%): 30.1% Canada, 27.8% Netherlands, 20.7% United Kingdom, 3.66% Germany, 2.96% Belgium, 0.29% France
  2. Netherlands (18.5%): 36.4% Germany, 21.8% Belgium, 11.4% France. 6.76% Poland, 1.36% United Kingdom
  3. Egypt (15.1%): 29.1% Netherlands, 17.6% United Kingdom, 12.8% Saudi Arabia, 6.97% United Arab Emirates, 5.17% France, 3.73% Germany
  4. China (6.54%): 31.4% United States, 17.4% United Kingdom, 14.6% Germany, 14.4% Vietnam, 5.88% Netherlands, 5.73% Japan, 1.63% Canada, 0.45% Belgium
  5. Spain (5.77%): 42.8% France, 14.7% Germany, 8.43% Netherlands, 6.62% United Kingdom, 4.74% Belgium

In this graphic we can notice the importance of both transatlantic and regional trade networks. We can also observe a complex interplay of influencing factors like bilateral agreements, regional dynamics, and market preferences.                                                     

 European countries, particularly Germany, United Kingdom, and France, are significant importers, and rely on a mix of intra-European trade and imports from major producers like the United States, Egypt, and China. Canada depends largely on the United States, indicating a strong bilateral trade relationship in this sector. Despite reliance on major suppliers, there is some diversity in import sources: for example, United Kingdom imports sweet potatoes from the United States, Egypt, China, Spain, and the Netherlands.

  1. Netherlands (18.3%): 37.5% United States, 24% Egypt, 11.6% Canada, 2.66% Spain, 2.1% China
  2. United Kingdom (11.6%): 44.1% United States, 22.9% Egypt, 9.86% China, 3.3% Spain, 2.17% Netherlands
  3. Germany (10.6%): 63.4% Netherlands, 8.97% China, 8.51% United States, 7.96% Spain, 5.3% Egypt
  4. Canada (8.22%): 90.4% United States, 1.29% China, 2.86% Jamaica, 1.69% Honduras
  5. France (6.39%): 38.6% Spain, 33% Netherlands, 12.2% Egypt, 1.13% United States, 0.81% Honduras, 0.16% China

Between 2021 and 2022, the exports of sweet potatoes grew the fastest in Egypt ($44M), China ($10.6M), Canada ($4.5M), Belgium ($3.59M), and Dominican Republic ($2.2M).



  1. Egypt: from $68.4M to $112M
  2. China: from $38M to $48.6M
  3. Canada: from $22.2M to $26.6M
  4. Belgium: from $7.03M to $10.6M
  5. Dominican Republic: from $6.74M to $8.94M

Whereas as regard the imports, the country that had the fastest growth was Belgium with an increase of $11.9M, followed by the United States ($11.5M), Germany ($11.1M), Saudi Arabia ($9M), and Kuwait ($3.76M).


  1. Belgium: from $34.3M to $46.2M
  2. United States: from $18.5M to $30M
  3. Germany: from $68M to $79.1M
  4. Saudi Arabia: from $5.56M to $14.6M
  5. Kuwait: from $1.79M to 5.55M