JETRO-Fruits-Festival_08 Japan fruit Thailand Sweet Potato

Demand for Japanese sweet potato is growing in South-East Asian markets like Thailand

Hokkaido has long been a major potato growing region in Japan but it may soon become home to sweet potato production thanks to new efforts.

According to a report from The Japan News, the public and private sector have set their sights on the region following production challenges and growing demand in South-East Asian markets.

Kyushu and other top sweet potato production regions in Japan have recently been affected by disease plus rising temperatures in the past few years have made Hokkaido’s climate more suitable for cultivation.

In October 2021 representatives from wholesale and seed companies gathered in Hokkaido as Vegetable Works harvested its first 15 tonnes of sweet potato after planting 20ha in June.

“This is the first time for me to grow (sweet potatoes), and they’re pretty easy to cultivate. I’m sure they’ll become more common in Hokkaido,” said Shin Sasaki, representative director of Vegetable Works.

Junichi Kano of wholesaler Tokyo Seika said there was an opportunity to build upon Hokkaido’s existing reputation for agricultural production.

“Utilizing as much as possible the brand power of Hokkaido as a source of food, we want to turn the prefecture into a growing area (for sweet potatoes) and expand the market,” said Kano.