Peeling back the layers of the World Potato Congress

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t love a spud! Baked, mashed, jacket, wedge, or hash brown – they’re all good. In fact, 85% of us have potatoes in the home pantry.

But perhaps more unexpectedly, the huge industry behind this vegetable warrants a World Potato Congress. And this year it’s happening in our own backyard from 23 – 26 June in Adelaide, South Australia.

Robbie Davis has been named ambassador for this year’s congress. She is a cattle farmer but has learnt a lot about potatoes.

“I’ve recognised just how extraordinary they are, how extraordinarily difficult they are to produce, and how extraordinarily good for you they are.”

Robbie sings the praises of potatoes from a sustainability, food security and nutritional point of view.

Adelaide to host 12th World Potato Congress

The World Potato Congress is held in Adelaide from 23 – 26 June 2024. It took nine years to bring the event to Australia following a successful bid. Many people may not have previously known the event existed but when you think that potatoes are the third biggest food crop in the world, it makes perfect sense.

The World Potato Congress is a group of volunteer directors representing potato jurisdictions across the world. The main driver is promoting the potato crop and its consumption, both in developed and developing countries.

“We are showcasing potatoes as a compelling, health conscious and nutritious food.”

Those with a vested interest in showing off the spud include primary producers, distributors, retailers and everyone in between, who make this crop happen.

Much has happened in the world of the potato since the first congress in 1993 in Canada.

“It’s fabulous that we can demonstrate our innovation, our technical capability, our production methods, agronomic excellence and ability to supply to the world,” Robbie explains.

The theme for this year’s congress is Old World Meets New, with a view to reflect the rich history of potatoes as a food staple, whilst also highlight the new technology that’s been applied to production.

“We’re finding new varieties that can adapt to many different sub and microclimates,” says Robbie.

Australia’s potato industry 

Potatoes are also gaining popularity in developing counties as a more water efficient alternative to rice.

“That’s why it’s so important to get the best brains together at events just like this one.”

Importantly for Australia, Robbie estimates we export only about 2% of our production due to commercial challenges and the perishable nature of the crop. We also generally don’t import potatoes. So, Aussies are solely supporting our domestic industry.

Hot potato! Health benefits of potatoes

“I think we consume, every one of us, about 16 kilograms per year.

“The point is that everyone actually loves them and they have this surprising and very inaccurate reputation of being high starch, high carbohydrate. But in fact, they’re really, really nutritious.”


  • They have 50% less carbohydrates than rice.
  • They have 25% less carbohydrates than pasta.
  • They have more potassium than a banana.
  • They are high in fibre.

Of course, we can’t forget the other very attractive feature – and that is versatility.

“We all know, my favourite of course, is mash!”

Robbie finds humour in people’s reaction to her role as a potato ambassador.

“The smile that creeps over their face is evident. I don’t know if it’s because they love them or whether they think it’s a funny thing to be in charge of. You wouldn’t have that reaction if I was head of the Australian cattle industry. So, it’s certainly interesting,” she observes.

For now, she just plans to put on the best World Potato Congress, potato lovers have ever seen.

Hear more stories like this by subscribing to the Telling Our Story podcast on iTunes (or wherever you listen to podcasts) and follow podcast host Angie Asimus on Instagram for more updates.

Angie Asimus

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