Australian Sweetpotato Industry
Here are some key facts about Sweetpotatoes and the industry:
- Sweetpotatoes are available all year round in Australia with total production around 100,000 tonnes worth an estimated Gross Value of $80 million.
- Queensland is the biggest producer with over 70% of production, centered mainly on Bundaberg. The second major producing area is around Cudgen in northern New South Wales. Sweetpotatoes are also grown at Mareeba, Atherton and Rockhampton (QLD), Murwillumbah (NSW), Perth, Carnarvon and Kununurra (WA).
- The Sweetpotato industry is a significant regional employer providing work for between 4000 – 5000 people in a normal year.
- The total number of commercial producers is estimated around 85. Farm size ranges from 10 to 200 hectares with most in the 15-80 hectare size.
- There are four “categories” of sweetpotatoes grown in Australia:
- Gold Category: Beauregard (Imported from the USA) is the current Australian industry standard gold-fleshed cultivar making up around 90% of Australian sweetpotato production. Beauregard has a rose/gold smooth skin, with a moderately deep orange flesh. It was developed by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station in 1981.
- Red Category: Northern Star is the current industry standard, red skinned, white-fleshed cultivar, making up around 8% of Australian sweetpotato production. Northern Star has a red purple skin, with bright, white flesh including occasional purple areas. Its origins are Laloki, Papua New Guinea.
- Purple Category: WSPF (White Skin Purple Flesh) has a white skin, with white and purple flesh. It was released in Queensland in 2000. WSPF is the current Australian industry standard purple-fleshed cultivar, but makes up less than 2% of Australian sweetpotato production.
- White Category: Kestle has a white skin, with white flesh. The original material came from Taiwan, with the resultant selection made 20-30 years ago. It is currently the principal white category cultivar grown for the commercial Australian sweetpotato market.
- Most commercial growers purchase pathogen tested planting material every year, which has almost doubled marketable yield per hectare in recent years.
- Sweetpotato in Australia is purchased by consumers on average 3 times a month and consumed 7 times a month.
- All fresh market sweetpotatoes sold in Australia are made in Australia. Processed products (e.g. chips) only are imported into Australia.