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Sweet and Rich Flavor Haenam Sweet Potato Captures the Appetites of Europeans


The Haenam Sweet Potato Producers Association (HSPPA), located in Haenam, Jeollanam-do, is the first export association for sweet potato in Korea.

There are four kinds of sweet potatoes produced by the HSPPA: sweet and soft- ‘pumpkin sweet potato (yellow sweet potato)’, rich-flavored ‘chestnut sweet potato’, well-known as a health food with anti-carcinogenic properties ‘purple sweet potatoes,’ and ‘white-purple sweet potato.’ Among these four kinds of sweet potatoes, pumpkin and chestnut sweet potatoes are now being exported, but the association plans to export the other two sorts through expanding its storage and processing facilities. The HSPPA is also going to enlarge the number of exporting countries from European to Southeast Asia.

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Mr. Oh Sang-jin, President of the HSPPA and Hwasan Nonghyup (Agricultural association), said: “Purple sweet potato has ten times more anthocyanin than grapes. This is a well-known as an anti-carcinogenic compound with an effect against hardening of the arteries.”

Pumpkin sweet potato is delicious, soft, and sweet and has 25brix (a measurement of the fraction of sugar per hundred parts aqueous solution by mass) when cooked. Chestnut sweet potato becomes softer and delicious through passing through the aging period, unlike other chestnut sweet potatoes that tend to be dry and crumbling.
Mr. Oh said proudly: “Haenam is the best place in Korea to cultivate sweet potato because sunshine is plentiful and there is a considerable range of daily temperatures sweet potatoes cultivated in Haenam are moist, sweet, and nutritious full of vitamins A, C, and E, kalium, calcium, and food fiber.” Those things work to neutralize free radicals in the human body.

The exports started after Mr. Kim Hoon, a CEO of Euro Journal, the biggest newspaper for overseas Koreans in Europe, brought two boxes of Haenam sweet potato to a company named ‘Korea Foods,’ one of the biggest Korean agri-and-food-products importing companies. The association exported to Europe nine tons of sweet potato in 2008 and twenty five tons in 2009, and it forecasts that the amount is likely to go up to 100 tons this year.

Haenam sweet potato is already popular in Europe as one  container (20 feet) of sweet potato that arrived at the very end of last year was sold out after just ten days. The previous targets for Haenam sweet potato have been Koreans and other Asians in Europe, but European people also love to eat them. Normally, sweet potato in Europe is imported from the United States but it is not so sweet and Europeans often eat raw sweet potato as an ingredient in salads. 

Mr. Oh said: “During the Korea festival in Europe I roasted sweet potato and Europeans loved it! They said they never knew cooked potato was so sweet like that.” But the price is also much higher than sweet potato from other countries, at 1.4 Euro per kilogram compared to 0.8 Euro/kg.


Inquiries  Oh Sang-jin             Tel  +82-10-3606-7576             Fax  +82-61-532-9596              E-mail   dhp41@naver.com

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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