UK consumers are buying two thirds less veg than the amount recommended by health experts. According to Government guidance on a healthy diet, 20% of our shopping should be made up of vegetables, but in reality we only reach 7.2%. Figures from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation show that as many as 20,000 premature deaths annually in the UK could be avoided if we all ate more veg.
The analysis, released by The Food Foundation is based on data from consumer behaviour experts Kantar Worldpanel and shows notable regional variations, with English consumers buying the most veg (7.3%) and Scottish consumers the least (6.6%). Welsh shoppers beat their Scottish counterparts, but lag behind England, with 7.1% of their purchases being veg.
Food Foundation Director Anna Taylor says, “Education programmes designed to get people to eat more veg have had limited success. We need to change tack and look at all parts of the food supply chain and ask ourselves what more we can do to make it easier for consumers to eat more veg. Today we are publishing a new online guide, which is packed with practical ideas for retailers, big and small, to increase their fresh, frozen and tinned vegetable sales. International and domestic case studies in our guide show that a strong vegetable offer can boost profits, so we hope they’ll be interested.”
Practical tips used by successful retailers and flagged in the guide include measures such as mid aisle displays (which boosted sales of overlooked veg by 400% in Denmark), using floor stickers and marking space in trolleys for fruit and veg.
The move by the Food Foundation to help retailers improve their veg offer is part of the think tank’s Peas Please initiative. Peas Please is a ground breaking new initiative to address declining levels of veg consumption. It aims to bring together farmers, retailers, fast food and restaurant chains, caterers, processors and government departments with a common goal of making it easier for everyone to eat veg.
As part of the initiative, the Food Foundation will hold a Vegetable Summit which will take place in London, Cardiff and Glasgow on October 24th 2017.