New data reveals that UK consumers are seriously lagging behind when it comes to veg consumption, buying two thirds less than recommended by health officials.
According to government guidance, 20% of our shopping should consist of vegetables, but the reality is very different.
The analysis released by independent think tank The Food Foundation, is based on data from Kantar Worldpanel and shows vegetables make up just 7.2% of purchases.
There are regional variations with English consumers buying the most veg (7.3%), Scottish consumers the least at 6.6% and Welsh shoppers 7.1%.
“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,” says Food Foundation director Anna Taylor.
“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.”
The guide, endorsed by British convenience store franchise group Simply Fresh, shares practical tips used by successful retailers to encourage better vegetable consumption including measures like aisle displays, floor stickers and designating space in shopping trolley’s specially for fresh produce.
“Leading on vegetables, making them a prominent part of our displays and overall offer, has been key to our success,” says Sukhjit Khera, director of Simply Fresh.
“In our Alcester store alone, we were able to double turnover and increase our margin by 2% with the introduction of a more substantive vegetable offer, despite being surrounded by a number of the larger high street supermarkets."
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores agrees, saying that almost half of all convenience store shoppers consider healthy options as important.
“HIM research shows that only 23% of UK consumers think that their local convenience stores have enough healthy options but shoppers tell us that they would recommend stores to friends based on the quality of their fruit and veg. Providing a full range of fruit and veg not only helps consumers make healthy choices, but makes sound business sense.”
The Food Foundation is helping retailers to improve vegetable offering as part of the think tank’s Peas Please initiative, which addresses declining levels of veg consumption and aims to bring together farmers, retailers, fast food and restaurant chains, caterers, processors and government departments to make it easier for the UK population to eat vegetables.
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.
Health experts estimate that 20,000 premature deaths annually in the UK could be avoided if people ate more vegetables.