New Defra publication highlights fall in consumption of fruit and vegetables among poorer households

The economic downturn since 2007 has hit fresh produce harder than other food categories, the newly published Food Statistics Pocketbook 2012 shows.

food shopping - image: Magnus D
food shopping - image: Magnus D

The booklet points out:

  • Fruit and vegetable consumption is falling in lower-income households. Between 2007-10, the poorest 10 per cent of households cut consumption of fruit by 25 per cent, and of vegetables by 15 per cent.
  • Purchases of fruit and vegetables (excluding potatoes) were highest in the South West and London at an equivalent of 4.5 portions per person per day, and lowest in Northern Ireland, at 3.4 portions per person per day.
  • The Government's target is for everyone to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit a day, but there has been no discernable progress towards this since 2001.
  • About 1 in 15 adults and children included no fruit and vegetables at all in their diet in 2010.
  • Fruit prices have risen steadily since June 2007, by 34 per cent overall. But, at 22 per cent, vegetables rose less than the average for all food of 29 per cent.
  • In real terms, overall food prices have risen 12 per cent over the last five years. Food has not been so expensive relative to other goods since 1997.
  • Fruit and vegetables (including potatoes) are 22 per cent more expensive in the UK than the EU average. Only in Germany, Ireland, Austria and Sweden are they more expensive.
  • Fruit & vegetables is the food category in which the UK runs the highest trade deficit. In 2011 the value of imports was £8.1 billion, while exports were valued at just £0.9 billion.
  • Fresh produce is also wasted in the home at a higher rate than other categories. 24 per cent of vegetables, amounting to 730,000 tonnes, and 20 per cent of fruit go to waste, compared to an average for all food of 17 per cent.

The full document is available from the Defra website.

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