New Data Shows Why The Potato Industry Is Exploding Right Now

"Not everyone can be a truffle. Most of us are potatoes. And a potato is a very good thing to be," writes Italian chef Massimo Bottura (via Goodreads.) Few would likely argue with this assertion. Potatoes are simple, almost sublimely so. They are earthy, hearty, satisfying, and nutritious, and they play so very well with others, like the steady but crucial double bass of a jazz combination.

Potatoes gratín swim in cream and black pepper. Bright, lemony Greek potatoes showcase their starchy range. Even American-to-the-bone funeral potatoes, featuring frozen hashbrowns and canned cream of mushroom soup, have their place in the pommes pantheon. And, if you're at all intimidated by the variety of potatoes and multitude of uses, we've got you covered with this handy guide.

Moreover, potatoes are in the midst of a moment. Per a new report by Persistence Market Research, the global market for processed potato products experienced a healthy annual growth rate of 3.5% between 2017 and 2021. That number is projected to jump to 5.2% in the next decade.

What's making potatoes pop?

It wasn't that long ago that potatoes were getting a bad rap. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the high carbohydrate count in spuds led to them being seen as the enemy of those looking to shed pounds. But if you're counting carbs, take a look at other items such as squash, corn, and lentils that stack up similarly in that respect. Monitoring carb intake certainly has its place, but potatoes are still a healthy starchy vegetable full of vitamins and minerals.

Driving the growth of processed potato products — defined mainly as frozen items like tater tots and fries, canned potatoes, chips, shoestring potatoes, and dehydrated potatoes — are a slew of factors related to lifestyle changes in the U.S. and around the world.

Vegan and vegetarian eating is on the rise. As Forbes notes, between 2014 and 2017, American consumers identifying as vegetarian or vegan jumped from 1% to 6%. Depending on the preparation, potatoes are a great way to bulk up a diet devoid of meat and other animal-based products.

In the same vein, health-conscious eaters — now in the know regarding the benefits of eating potatoes — are increasingly turning to products that carry a "healthy" reputation. Those include potatoes fried in olive oil and other oils low in saturated fats, though as LiveStrong points out, all potato chips should be enjoyed in moderation.

As with most other delicious foods, moderation is always a good rule to follow.