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The Contribution of Potatoes to Global Food Security, Nutrition and Healthy Diets

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A Correction to this article was published on 06 February 2019

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Potatoes play an important role developing countries’ food security; 50% of the world’s food energy needs are supplied by potatoes, rice, wheat and maize. Developing countries’ share of global potato output now surpasses that of developed countries. Global potato consumption was on average 35 kg/capita/yr. in 2013, with large regional differences. Trends in potato consumption show that while in Europe potato consumption has been steadily decreasing, Africa and Asia have seen a ~70% increase between 1961 and 2013. Potato biodiversity is vast; variety is one of the main factors governing nutrient content. Potatoes are fat free, a source of vitamin C and vitamin B6, and can also supply good amounts of other micronutrients and fiber. Potatoes feature in the food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) of many countries. Some FBDGs make a distinction, recommending consumption of healthy preparations while limiting that of unhealthy forms high in energy, salt and fat.


Las papas juegan un papel importante en la seguridad alimentaria de los países en desarrollo; el 50% de las necesidades mundiales de energía de los alimentos las suministra la papa, el arroz, el trigo y el maíz. Lo que comparten los países en desarrollo de la contribución mundial de papa ahora sobrepasa a lo que corresponde de los países desarrollados. El consumo global de la papa estaba en un promedio de 35 kg/cápita/año en 2013, con grandes diferencias regionales. Las tendencias en el consumo de la papa muestran que mientras que en Europa el consumo de papa ha estado disminuyendo establemente, Africa y Asia han visto un ~70% de aumento entre 1961 y 2013. La biodiversidad de la papa es muy amplia; el aspecto varietal es uno de los principales factores que gobiernan el contenido de nutrientes. Las papas estan libres de grasa, son una fuente de vitamina C y de vitamina B6, y también pueden suministrar buenas cantidades de otros micronutrientes y fibra. Las papas están presentes en las guías de dietas alimenticias (FBDGs) de muchos países. Algunas FBDGs hacen una distinción, recomendando el consumo de preparaciones sanas mientras que limitan las de formas no sanas, altas en energía, sal y grasas.

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  • 06 February 2019

    In the original article the copyright holder name is incorrect. The copyright holder name should be Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


  1. Food security can be measured on several different scales, such as at the individual, household, national, regional and global levels.

  2. Refers to the proportion of the population whose dietary energy consumption is less than a pre-determined threshold. This threshold is country specific and is measured in terms of the number of kilocalories required to conduct sedentary or light activities (FAO 2008a).

  3. The classification of a country as low-income food-deficit is used for analytical purposes by FAO, based on criteria such as a country’s per capita gross national income, and net (i.e. gross imports less gross exports) food trade position when considering trade volumes for a broad basket of basic foodstuffs. Currently 52 countries fall under this category (FAO 2018a).

  4. The following are included: potatoes, flour potatoes, frozen potatoes, potato starch, potato tapioca

  5. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a food can be referred to as a “source of fibre” or “containing fibre”, provided that the product contains at least 3 g/100 g or 1.5 g/100 kcal of dietary fibre, and as “high in fibre” or “containing a large amount of fibre”, provided that the product contains at least 6 g/100 g or 3 g/100 kcal of dietary fibre.

  6. Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds in vegetables, and are relatively non-toxic, but approximately 5% of all ingested nitrate is converted in saliva and in the gastrointestinal tract to the more toxic nitrite, which is associated with gastric cancer and other health problems (Ierna 2009).

  7. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a probable carcinogen (IARC 2018).

  8. The glycemic index (GI) rates the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose. The higher the GI, the more similar is the effect of the food to glucose, i.e. these foods cause a faster increase in blood glucose levels.

  9. Extrusion processing is often used to prepare mass produced snack foods and ready-to-eat foods.


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Correspondence to Ramani Wijesinha-Bettoni.

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The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Wijesinha-Bettoni, R., Mouillé, B. The Contribution of Potatoes to Global Food Security, Nutrition and Healthy Diets. Am. J. Potato Res. 96, 139–149 (2019).

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