Belgium’s Colruyt Group has started selling its first domestically-grown sweet potatoes at its Colruyt and Okay stores.
The sweet potatoes are being supplied by De Aardhappelhoeve, a family producer based in the West-Flemish town of Tielt. They will be available in December and January.
“The transport costs [of exporting] are high and it is less sustainable,’ co-founder Bart Nemegheer told European Supermarket Magazine. “So I thought, what if we tried it here? Then there would be daily supplies, close to home.”
Demand for sweet potatoes is growing in Belgium, with the majority of supplies coming from the US and Africa.
However, Nemegheer said milder weather and local soil in the Flemish region are ideal for the cultivation of Beauregard sweet potatoes.
“Despite the cool summer, the harvest was a success,” he said. “We simply harvested a little later, in October.”
Colruyt buyer Lutgard Massaer welcomed Belgian sweet potatoes as a valuable addition to the retailer’s produce offering and said if the trial proved successful production would be expanded next season.
“I have been buying sweet potatoes from Senegal, the US 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.”