European fresh produce association Freshfel has released its latest findings into fruit and vegetable consumption trends which reveal a slight upturn over a five year period – but consumption is still below minimum the daily recommended intake.
According to Freshfel’s Consumption Monitor (up to 2014), consumption stands at 353 gram of fresh fruit and vegetables per capita per day across member states.
It represents an increase of 1.6% compared to 2013 and a slight 0.3% increase compared to the last five years (2009-2013).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says at least 400 grams should be eaten daily, and earlier this year, Imperial College London scientists claimed doubling that figures to 800 grams per day – the equivalent of 10 portions daily – would have significant health impacts, preventing up to 7.8 million deaths per year.
Freshfel says it is carefully optimistic that trends are moving in the right direction, as the figures show a slight uptick for a second year.
In 2014, EU citizens consumed an average 192 grams of fruit and 161 grams of vegetables daily.
Fruit consumption went up 1.2% compared with 2013, which is also an increase of 1.2% compared with the average of the previous five years (2009-2013). Meanwhile, vegetable consumption increased 2% compared with 2013 but shows a small decrease of 0.7% compared with the average of the previous five years (2009-2013).
Philippe Binard, General Delegate of Freshfel, says this is a positive development and the sector can build on the factors that lead to improvements in the amount of fresh produce eaten across Europe.
“The findings of the Freshfel Monitor confirm our general perception that the fresh fruit and vegetables consumption is recovering slightly from the negative trends experienced since the turn of the century,” he says.
“Fruit and vegetables are becoming again more popular to European consumers. The sector is managing to better position fresh produce within the changing lifestyle environment of consumers while building the growth on its multiples assets of fresh produce.
“Besides the quality and diversity of fresh produce, the sector can also rely new drivers such as the greater focus of consumers on healthy diet, the search for freshness as well as increased attention for veggie-inspired lifestyles. These are some of the factors driving this trend that seems to be further consolidating in 2015 and 2016.”
Freshfel also stresses the importance of promotions to increase consumption and how the latest trends demonstrate the “long term efficiency” of activities and European policies geared towards increasing consumption, such as the school fruit and vegetables scheme which operates throughout member states.
“Other policies that stimulate healthier choices should be further encouraged, including namely simplified rules in regard to health and nutrition claims for fruit and vegetables to better assist the sector.”
One of the latest promotions run by Freshfel Europe together with Copa Cogeca, is the social media campaign #FruitVeg4You to raise awareness of the category and to help stimulate consumption.
And next month Freshfel will team up with the European Association of Vegetable Processors, Profel, during an event in Brussels to discuss future opportunities for the fresh produce category and to reinforce the position of fruit and vegetables in European policy.