In recent years, more and more people are uniting Lag Ba'omer bonfires or giving them up altogether instead of each class or garden having its own. Like every year, with an increased consumption of potatoes during the bonfires, the Agriculture Ministry released all the numbers and data about potatoes that are important to know.
Potatoes are a source of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber and protein. They are the world's fourth largest crop, in terms of production volume and consumption, after corn, wheat and rice.
Some will be surprised to know that world production of these popular tubers, as of 2020, stood at about 359 million tons per year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. At the top of the chart is China, which is considered a leader in the industry, producing about 78 million tons.
Israel produced about 509,000 tons of potatoes in 2021. About 222,000 tons of local produce are for local consumption, another 97,000 tons are used as raw material for industrial purposes and about 22,000 tons are used as potato seeds. About 169,000 tons are for export, and constitute almost half (about 48%) of Israel's vegetable exports.
In European countries, annual per capita consumption of potatoes is estimated to average about 80 kg, while the average Israeli consumes less than half of that: about 35 kg. of potatoes per year. In some European countries, such as Poland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium, consumption can be as much as 100 kg. annually.
More than 60 varieties of potatoes are produced in Israel, with new varieties being created every year. Most of the potatoes sold retail chains are basically divided into two types: white and red. Experts from the Agriculture Ministry have identified several varieties that are most common in the marketing chains.
The red-skinned varieties are Desiree, Memphis, Mozart, Canberra and Rodeo, white ones are the Sifra and Tyson varieties and yellow ones include Celtia, Charlotte and Nicola.
According to data presented by retail chains in 2021, most consumers preferred to buy white potatoes, whose average price was about NIS 3.81 per kg., a decrease of 3.7% compared to 2020.
Red potatoes were more expensive, averaging about NIS 4.55 per kg. This is also a decrease from the previous year: about 7%.
The average price decrease of all potato varieties was about 4.2%. Along with the varieties mentioned, there are gourmet varieties that are usually smaller and especially tasty but are only sold in small quantities.