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How to tell an Aussie from a Kiwi? Use potatoes

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How do you tell an Aussie from a Kiwi? By whether they accompany their meals with a huge portion of chips, or just a large one.

Both nationalities are among the big four consumers of the tuber - in processed form at least - along with Americans and Canadians.

But, with consumption of more than 27kg per person a year, Australians are the clear leaders, eating twice as much as their New Zealand neighbours.

Kiev hunger

Still, that pales against the hunger of Eastern Europeans for raw potatoes, with the average Belarusian munching their way through 105kg of the tuber a year, Poles nearly 120kg, and Ukrainians 160kg each.

The Irish, a decade ago among the champion potato eaters, have slipped to sixth place, with consumption fading by 20% to about 85kg.

Belgians have taken the place as Europe's biggest potato-philes, consuming nearly 100kg a person, more than a decade ago and, with foreign purchases of 1.45m tonnes a year, ranking as the world's biggest importers.

Trading places

Much of the trade is with neighbouring countries. Indeed, although potatoes originated in South America, the centre of their universe appears to have shifted 6,000 miles or so further west since they were discovered by Europeans nearly 500 years ago.

The Netherlands appears the tuber's all-round home. At least, so it appears on a potato map published by Rabobank, the Dutch bank,

China is by far the world's biggest producer, with output of 72.0m tonnes in 2007, with Russia in second place on 36.8m tonnes.

But the Netherlands boasts the best potato yields, of 45 tonnes an acre – three times the global average – is the biggest exporter of frozen processed potatoes and of seed too.

Eat what they sow

OK, it has lost top rank among exporters of fresh potatoes, slipping behind France and Germany, but that may be because the Dutch are at least eat a big proportion of what they grow.

The Netherlands ranks 6th in the processed potato league, ahead of all other European countries, bar chip-loving Britain.

French fries? Pah.


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