Jack o'lanterns aside, pumpkins aren't just popular around Halloween. Worldwide, some surprising players are growing more gourds than ever before.
Which country grows the most pumpkins?
According to information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the country that grew the most pumpkins between 2004 and 2014 (the most recent year for which complete statistics are available) was China.
Not too far behind China was India, which led the world in production until it slipped to second place in the late 1990s. Quite a ways down, Russia and Ukraine came in third and fourth, respectively. The U.S. comes in fifth.
As a crop, pumpkins are mostly consumed in their country of origin, although there are a few exceptions – Spain exports pumpkins to the rest of Europe, for example.
In most countries, pumpkins are used for human and animal consumption. In the U.S., where pumpkin sales generate around USD$100 million each year, a large share of the pumpkin crop is destined for decorative and recreational use. Then there’s competitive pumpkin growing (yes, it’s a thing) which seems especially popular in the U.S., the EU and Russia. Belgian farmer Mathias Willemijns holds the record with a 2,624.6 lb. giant he grew in 2016.
Worldwide, production of pumpkins has doubled over the past decade. That’s thanks to increases in productivity in China and India, continued good publicity praising the health benefits of the squash’s beta carotene and vitamin C – and pumpkin’s enduring Halloween symbolism, of course.
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