Ube or Not Ube, That Is the Question…and Frieda’s Is Answering

The specialty produce company shines a spotlight on the trending purple yam

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – Prepare your produce teams to answer one of the trickiest questions in food trends: do you sell ube (pronounced “OO-beh”)?

The internet is buzzing with images and stories of purple-tinted desserts made with the elusive purple yam, which is difficult to find fresh in the U.S., and, at the same time, perpetuating misinformation about what fresh ube looks like. The specialty produce experts at Frieda’s Specialty Produce want to demystify common confusion about ube and other purple sweet potato varieties so retailers are ahead of the game on this popular trend.

“Because fresh ube is rarely available in the U.S., most people don’t know what it looks like,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “They often mistake Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and Okinawan sweet potatoes for ube because of the purple flesh. Even the internet is confused about that!

“Shoppers may think they are looking for fresh ube, but oftentimes we find they really want a purple sweet potato. We want our customers to be knowledgeable about all of the trending purple tubers, so they can better inspire new food experiences for their shoppers,” added Caplan.


Also known as a purple yam, fresh ube has brown, bark-like skin, and flesh that ranges from white with purple specks to lilac. This tuber is a staple of the Filipino kitchen. It is well loved all over Asia as a dessert ingredient for its sweet and nutty flavor. However, in most cases, ube desserts are made with either grated frozen roots, powder, flavor extract, or jam (ube halaya), which are all available in Filipino or Asian markets.

Purple sweet potatoes, however, are more commonly available to most consumers. Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin and violet-purple flesh; Okinawan sweet potatoes have beige skin and lavender-purple flesh.

“What Is (or isn’t) Ube?” 1-minute video and a written companion piece, “The Ultimate Purple Sweet Potato Guide,” are now available as a part of the company’s ever growing specialty produce information library. From “Quick Bite” recipe videos to the classic “Produce 101” series, and extensive recipe and product information database, Frieda’s is the go-to resource for specialty produce information.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.