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Lettuce, Lactuca sativa / Compositae
The lettuce has its predecessor in a wild species that grows in most of the tempered areas of the planet; therefore, its geographic origin is not clear. It is mainly cultivated in Asia, representing half of the world-wide production, followed by North America and Europe.

The lettuce was well-known by the Sumerian, Egyptian, Persian and Roman people. Its consumption diminished during the Middle Ages, but it was once again in fashion during the Renaissance. In the XVIth century, the Roman lettuce was introduced in France, from where it spread to England. Nowadays, it is consumed everywhere in the world.

By continents, the main producer is Asia, standing for half of the world-wide production. It is followed by North America and Europe. The production by continents is as follows:

ContinentThousand tons%
Africa63-
Asia8,428 50
Europe3,56021
North America4,50227
South America2081
Oceania1651
Total16,926100

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

The country with larger production of lettuces is China, followed by the United States. The countries that follow, with less production, are Spain, Italy and India.

The 10 main producers are:

CountryThousand tons
China6,255
The United States4,230
Spain1,050
Italy923
India770
France630
Japan540
Turkey295
Belgium-Luxembourg180
United Kingdom175

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

Among the export countries, Spain is the one with greater amount of sells, followed by the United States and Italy. These three countries are also among the four chief producers.

The main exporters of lettuce are:

CountryThousand tons
Spain420
The United States318
Italy126
The Netherlands89
France80
Belgium-Luxembourg77
Mexico29
Jordan19
Germany14
Canada13

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000
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