The Top 5 Types of Fruit Produced in the World

  Fruit World Fruit Production
1 Tomatoes 182,256,458 m/t
2 Bananas 115,737,861 m/t
3 Watermelons 103,931,337 m/t
4 Apples 86,142,197 m/t
5 Grapes 79,125,982 m/t
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 Special Report

What you'll learn:

  • What? Tomatoes aren't a vegetable?
  • Bananas are awesome.
  • Forget the Mona Lisa, Watermelons are the real mystery.

  • And much, much more...

Tomatoes are a Fruit!

Surprise! Botanically and biologically speaking, tomatoes (or "tahmatoes" as some people pronounce them) are actually a fruit. Some of you may have already known this and others may not have, but yes, tomatoes are fruit and they also happen to be the most produced "fruit" in the world.

Tomatoes are Not a Fruit!

What?? Tomatoes are really a vegetable?? Well, commercially and legally speaking, in the United States, yes. This fight about whether a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable (yes, that was actually a thing) was decided in the supreme court of the United States in 1893 with Nix v. Hedden when Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray ruled that:

Tomatoes are "vegetables," and not "fruit," within the meaning of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, c. 121.

Trust us, there's much more legalese written about this decision, but basically Gray decided that concerning things that mattered the most to American consumers, a tomato is a vegetable even though it's scientifically a fruit.

We here at have decided to shake things up a bit and stir the debate even more by including tomatoes in our list of the most produced type of "fruit" in the world. However just in case there are any complaints out there in the "tomatoes are vegetables" camp, Mangos are the 6th most produced type of fruit in the world (at 55 million tonnes) or the 5th most produced fruit depending on how deeply you feel about all this.

Bananas: the Second Most Produced Fruit in the World

Let's face it, a banana is a nice, neat, nutrition-filled piece of fruit all bundled up in its own packaging. You don't even need to use a plastic bag to put them in as their peel is nice and thick and durable. Banana peel also has its own uses, you can even shine your shoes with them, which is actually kind of gross.

Bananas are the number one fruit sold in the United States. The U.S. imports more bananas than any other country in the world at 4.7 million metric tonnes per year, with Russia following up at number two at 1.5 million tonnes per year. In 2018, The United States exported 600,000 tonnes of bananas which were commercially grown in the state of Hawaii. Ecuador exports the most bananas in the world at 6.5 million tonnes per year.

Botanically, a banana is a berry, which leads us to the conclusion that botanists are a strange group. Bananas are loaded with the good stuff. It has 33% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, 41% of Vitamin B6, 30% of Manganese and 23% of potassium. We're not nutrition experts or anything but we think that's pretty good.

Watermelons are Super Mysterious

Who knew that watermelons, the number 3 most produced fruit in the world, were so mysterious? Well, thanks to our friends at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and all their amazing fruit data (we love you guys), there's certainly no mystery about what country produces the most watermelon in the world, that would be China, who is by far the biggest producer of the fruit. By the way, the world produces a pretty impressive 103.9 million metric tonnes of watermelon every year, which is not surprising considering it is the heaviest fruit.

Anyway, the watermelon is mostly a mystery because the smart people who study these things (botanical nerds) report that nobody really knows exactly where watermelons originated. Some say South Africa and some say ancient Egypt and others say Africa. The debate (among botanical nerds) is raging. Were Watermelons derived from Citrullus Colocynthis? or were they derived from Citrullus Amarus Schrad? Word on the street is that they derived from C. lanatus. Nobody is really sure and apparently only botanist nerds care enough to fight each other over it (often to the death we hear).

What watermelon experts do know however, is that the fruit is somewhere around 5,000 years old and very likely didn't look like that nice smooth round, red fleshed, triangle-shaped, wedged, summer treat that we know today. In the past it was bumpy, hard, green, very bitter and maybe even hairy. Well, actually it's only the stalks that were hairy. Watermelons are also cool because their seeds appear on ancient Egyption hyroglifics and were also used in pharaoh burial rituals or something . Who knew watermelons were so interesting? Botanical nerds that's who!

Apples Aren't Nearly as Boring as You Think

Apples may be only number 4 on our top 5 list but that doesn't mean they are boring, after all, apples were the forbidden fruit. So apparently, if it weren't for apples, we'd all be in paradise on earth right now, being fed grapes by angles or something. Thanks for ruining everything apples!

While apples may have got us kicked out of paradise, they more than make up for it by being full of antioxidants, which, according to experts, help to neutralize free radicals. We don't know what "neutralize free radicals" means either but it sounds pretty awesome. It's certainly hard to deny the apple's effect on pop culture and events in history and folklore. Think about it. An apple fell on Newton's head, the Beatles recorded on Apple records, we have sayings like: "You're the apple of my eye", "The apple didn't fall far from the tree", "How do like them apples", etc, etc. We also have Apple computers and Apple watches and Apple software. Robin Hood split an apple with an arrow, Snow White ate a poisoned apple, we don't give teachers watermelons, and the list goes on and on. Why they are not number one on our list we'll never know.

Grapes: the Fruit that Changed the World

Last but not least on our top 5 list, are grapes, and, in the vein of one of our favorite books: Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, we propose that if a fish changed the world then the fruit that brought us wine surely must have had its impact on human development in its own right.

Whoever the first winemaker was, is unfortunately lost to time, but what we do know is that someone, somewhere, at some point in history either accidentally or intentionally thought that old, fermented grapes lying around, left in a per-historic bowl or something looked pretty yummy and after eating a bunch, they got drunk, probably had an existential argument with their spouse or a fistfight with their best friend, and then had a super-hangover the next day. So naturally, they decided to call it "wine" or "argument juice" and make it again. Nobody is sure when this actually happened, but very clever archaeologists using molecular biology discovered traces of wine in 7,000 year old pottery vessels from the Zagros mountains which is now Iran. Ancient wine was probably made from grapes mainly because grapes were the only fruit which could initially produce a a fermented drink in the neolithic period because of their high sugar content. Another interesting fact is that the first person to make wine was very likely a female, as women were fruit and berry gatherers during neolithic times. Take that Robert Parker. (A.)

So the discovery of the ancient Iranian clay pot led archeologists to believe that wine-making was at least 7,000 years old. That was an interesting discovery and kind of puts a time stamp on the first wine ever produced, but other archeologists believe that the beginning of wine-making likely started in the Caucasus mountains in what is now modern day Georgia or Armenia somewhere towards Kurdistan around 8000 years ago and coincided with the advent of the invention of clay jars which makes sense as jars are much better than animal skins to keep and ferment wine in. So you can probably thank an ancient Iranian/ Iraqi/ Kurdish/ Georgian/ Armenian woman for that bottle of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 resting in your cellar. Wine-making has been since refined by various civilizations over millennia to achieve the slightly-snooty grape-based product that we have today.

Grapes Make Wine and Wine Makes Money

The world wine market was worth $364.25 billion USD in 2019 and the wine economy is continuing to grow . (B.) Grapes are grown around the world and these are The Top 5 Grape Producing Countries. In most countries, the grapes grown today are varieties of just one vine species called .Vitis vinifera or literally the ‘winemaking grape’. Grapes have a reasonably long growing season (150–180 days) with relatively low humidity (less than 800 mm per year) but sufficient soil moisture is necessary for their production. The steps involved in the processing of grapes into wine vary depending on whether the wine produced is to be white or red and we'd love to tell you more about it but it involves a lot of agriculture science-y terms like "period of maceration" and temperature and humidity ranges and stuff. One interesting thing we found in our research is that one kilogram of grape will produce, after fermentation, around 0.7 litres of finished wine. There are a couple of reasons why wine is made mostly from grapes, One is because grapes are very juicy, so that a lot of liquid can come from them. The grape skins also attract yeast cells, which is essential to the process of fermentation. Additionally, for significant fermentation to occur a minimum sugar level of about 10 per cent is required, which grapes happen to have.

Top 5 Special Reports Sources:

A. Charters, Steve. Wine & Society: the social and cultural context of a drink. Perth. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. (2006).

B. Fortune Business insights. 2020. Wine Market Size Worth USD 444.93 Billion by 2027

Tags: Farming & Agriculture Statistics, Crops, Food & Drink

Sources:  FAOSTAT data, 2020 (last accessed by Top 5 of Anything: Sept 2020).

List Notes: List is the top 5 types of fruit crops produced globally. Production, imports and exports are in metric tonnes (m/t) for the year 2018 (latest year for which fruit production statistics are available).

Types of Fruit Produced in the World

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