The EU’s average fruit and veggie intake has gone up to 364.58 g/day/capita in 2021. It’s a 2.19% increase from last year, and 1.27% higher than the previous 5-year average. However, it’s still almost 10% less than the 400g/day/capita minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.
The fresh produce market size in the EU-27 reached £74.35m tonnes in 2021. This growth aligns with the positive trend seen since 2020, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But, the economic crisis following the war in Ukraine in 2022 has put fruit and veggie consumption in Europe under pressure. Consumer purchasing power has been affected, and food expenditure has been limited.
During crises, consumers tend to move towards less healthy diets. They see them as more energy-satisfactory and cheaper than fruits and veggies. This is why Freshfel Europe believes that the post-pandemic consumption growth has been lost. Consumption has declined by over 10% in many cases.
According to the Freshfel Europe Consumption Monitor, only a few EU countries reached the recommended goal of consuming at least 400g of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Freshfel Europe is concerned that a 2019 Eurostat survey shows that 33% of EU consumers consume no fruit or veggies every day. Another 55% do not reach the recommended five portions a day. The association is also worried about the low consumption rates seen amongst the younger generations and in lower-income households.
Freshfel Europe thinks that more needs to be done to encourage consumption. They believe that the fruit and vegetable sector should build on the momentum of increased consumption. This should be based on the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables for the planet, the climate, and the consumers’ health.
Freshfel Europe also wants to counter the misperception that fruits and vegetables are expensive. They believe that the sector should demonstrate its affordability and nutritional value. This would help move consumers towards a plant-based diet.
Adding one piece of fruit or vegetable to the daily diet of European consumers could help boost consumption. This could bring the European market size up by almost 20% or 15m tonnes.
Freshfel Europe concludes that a healthy diet that meets the minimum recommendation remains affordable. It can be achieved for less than £2/day.
Information derived from fruitnet.com.