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Hokkaido looks to benefit as sweet potato exports to SE Asia soar

Thailand and Hong Kong among those increasing imports from Japan's northern island

Hokkaido aims to export 100 tonnes of sweet potatoes in November. (Photo courtesy of National Agriculture and Food Research Center)

SAPPORO, Japan -- With their distinctively sweet, fleshy interiors, Japanese sweet potatoes from the country's south have long been considered an autumn delicacy at home. But they are now enjoying an export boom across Southeast Asia as a health food, driving up business opportunities for Japanese exporters not only in the south of Japan.

Part of the vegetable's surging popularity is thanks to Thailand, where sweet potatoes are known as a low-calorie health food, and where exports of the Japanese crop are expected to double from 2021 levels to more than 3,700 tonnes in 2024.

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