The word "potato" may refer either to the plant itself or to the edible tuber. In the Andes, where the species is indigenous, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were introduced outside the Andes region approximately four centuries ago and have since become an integral part of much of the world's food supply. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following maize, wheat, and rice. The most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia.
Fresh potatoes are baked, boiled, or fried and used in a staggering range of recipes: mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, potato salad and potatoes au gratin, to name a few but global consumption of potato as food is shifting from fresh potatoes to added-value, processed food products.