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Industry trends

Pumpkin production doubled in a decade. Who’s winning this race?

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?

It’s not the United States, despite Americans’ love for Halloween and pumpkin pies. Nor is it Ireland or the UK, where the tradition of jack o’lanterns is thought to have been born.

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.

China grows the most pumpkins in the world, followed by India, Russia, Ukraine and the U.S.
China grows the most pumpkins in the world, followed by India, Russia, Ukraine and the U.S.

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.

Worldwide yield of pumpkins has almost doubled over the past decade.
Worldwide yield of pumpkins has almost doubled over the past decade.

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.

Pumpkins, out of some 400 on display grown this season, are pictured at Franzlbauer farm in Hintersdorf, Austria,REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
Pumpkins, out of some 400 on display grown this season, are pictured at Franzlbauer farm in Hintersdorf, Austria. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

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.

A jack o' lantern sits on a post along a residential street as revelers take part in the annual Parade of Lost Souls in Vancouver, British Columbia .REUTERS/Andy Clark
A jack o’ lantern sits on a post along a residential street as revelers take part in the annual Parade of Lost Souls in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. REUTERS/Andy Clark

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