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International Potato Day: Celebrating diversity, nutrition, sustainability and hope in a global staple crop

On May 30th, the International Potato Day will be celebrated for the first time, following a resolution by the UN General Assembly on December 8, 2023. As representatives of the entire potato value chain – from breeding, seed production and propagation to primary production and packaging trade, as well as upstream and downstream sectors – the Union of the German Potato Industry e.V. (UNIKA) and the German Potato Trade Association e.V. (DKHV) take this opportunity to honour the versatility and significance of the potato as one of the world’s most important staple foods.

A culinary phenomenon

UNIKA and DKHV go on to say that the potato is a culinary phenomenon. It has travelled an impressive journey since its introduction from the Andes as an exotic plant into royal gardens centuries ago. Over the years, it has continued to inspire artists.

The famous quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “In the morning round, mashed at noon, in slices in the evening – let it remain so. It is healthy,” highlights the potato’s versatility and its importance as a healthy and nutritious food. Today, it is a cornerstone of global nutrition, feeding billions of people worldwide.

Dr. Sebastean Schwarz, Managing Director of UNIKA and DKHV, emphasises the significance of the potato for Germany: “The German potato industry provides jobs for 110,000 people in 27,600 enterprises. With a potato cultivation area of 264,700 hectares, roughly the size of Saarland, Germany is the largest potato producer in the EU.”

Why is the potato so important?

Nutritional richness: Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre essential for a balanced diet. They offer a wealth of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Versatility: The potato is extremely versatile in the kitchen. It can be baked, boiled, grilled, fried, steamed, or processed into various dishes. The potato represents high nutritional value and product safety. Potatoes are also a valued industrial raw material. Potato starch, protein, and fibre are particularly suitable for food products and animal feed, but they also find versatile use in the non-food sector, such as in the production of paper and cardboard.

Resilience and adaptability: The potato is an exceptionally resilient plant that can thrive in a variety of climates. It is an important staple food in many parts of the world and plays a crucial role in food security and combating hunger.

Sustainability: Potatoes require significantly fewer resources such as water and land compared to other staple foods. They are a resource-efficient option for sustainable nutrition and contribute to reducing the ecological footprint. Thanks to expertise and variety diversity, the potato industry is also able to meet the diverse demands of customers.

Further information about the International Potato Day can be found at FAO International Potato Day.

Source: UNIKA/DKHV press release

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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