The world trade in potatoes is at record levels as consumers across the world discover the nutrition and environmental benefits of the crop.
Potato and potato product trade jumped by 9% in 2016 to a record €12 billion (US$13.3 billion) figures from information service World Potato Markets reveal. The value of trade is now two thirds higher than it was eight years ago. The volume of potato and potato products broke through the 20 million tonne market for the first time in 2016, with strong demand from South America, Asia and the Middle East.
Average world potato yields are now more than 20 tonnes/hectare, up a third in the last 20 years and the world is on course to produce more than 400 million tonnes of potatoes a year within the next two years. Yield improvements are greatest in Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.
Many countries are turning to the potato to feed their growing populations, while valuing its ability to use water and land more effectively than other crops. China already produces 100 million tonnes of potatoes a year, but has ambitious plans to double this volume. India also wants to increase potato consumption per person by 100% to 50kg a head a year.
- All the world’s potatoes are derived from native species found in the Andes where more than 4,000 types have been found.
- King Frederick II of Prussia was an early potato fan. In the 1700s he grew a large field of potatoes in the hope of getting people to eat them. They were not keen so he sent soldiers to guard the field in the day, but told them to drop their guard at night. Villagers thought the new crop must be something special so when the guards were asleep at night they crept out and stole the potatoes took them home, cooked them and realised how delicious and nutritious they were.
- A 225gramme baked potato contains just 100 calories
- A 148g serving of potato contains 45% of your daily vitamin C requirement and 18% of the potassium you need every day.
- The heaviest recorded potato was 4.99kg (11lbs) grown by British gardener Peter Glazebrook.
- The Idaho Potato Museum houses a Pringles potato crisp that is 58.4cm (23”) by 36.8cm (14.5”).
- The potato was the first vegetable in space blasting off in a 1995 space mission.