“We are in the middle of the eighth sweet potato season,” says Christian Hurni of Batati. After last year was a cold, wet summer with hail, a summer to forget quickly, this year the situation looks very different. The hot and dry summer was optimal for the development of the sweet potato. “Good swimming weather is good sweet potato weather,” says Simon van der Veer, co-owner of Batati. “The harvest is above average. We had to be careful that the tubers did not grow too large, and we mechanically destroyed the foliage prematurely. Large tubers with a piece weight of more than 850 grams are too large for public sale, and sales in industry are also limited,” adds Christian.

“Sales in stores started on September 19 this year, more than a month earlier than last year. However, this also means that the harvest started on 1 September, so that the first batches were washed and commissioned in time for the first day of sale,” says Christian, who is in charge of Batati in Fräschels. The sales peaks occur during activities in the shops and during the holidays in December.

“The additional costs for young plants, fertilization and energy can be foreseen due to the long-term contracts so far, but all the elements together make up a considerable amount,” Simon continues. Other areas and regions in Europe are currently more severely affected than Switzerland, where inflation is somewhat slowed down by the other currencies. We look forward to the next few weeks and this year’s sales. “It is likely to be foreseen that we will not reach the sales level of recent years, as more is consumed outdoors again than during the pandemic. Whether Swiss consumers will switch to the cheaper imported sweet potatoes or the even cheaper regular potatoes is currently difficult to assess. Therefore, accurate estimates are currently hardly possible.”

In addition to the two business owners Christian Hurni and Simon van der Veer, there are nine other companies that grow sweet potatoes sold by Batati. Together, at the beginning of winter, the area sizes for the coming year are fixed. Currently, only the common orange variety Beauregard is grown.

“Special this year is that we can carry out a trial with the large distributor Coop with the sale of small Önique sweet potatoes. We are curious how consumers react to this and of course hope for success,” says Simon.

Exports to the neighbouring countries

In addition to supplying the Swiss domestic market, Batati also receives applications from abroad. “In most cases, it is about the cultivation or processing technology. The export of our sweet potatoes would of course be a nice idea, especially since other Swiss products such as cheese and chocolate have a large following all over the world. However, sweet potatoes are also grown in many other countries and so, in the end, it is always a matter of price. And in that respect, the omens for our sweet potatoes are unfortunately bad,” Christian outlines. “But we are always available for applications,” concludes Simon.

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