European fresh fruit and vegetable consumption remains in decline
Freshfel is calling for urgent action to continue to stimulate fresh produce consumption in Europe

European fresh fruit and vegetable consumption remains in decline

Gill McShane
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Freshfel Europe (The European Fresh Produce Association) has released its latest edition of the Freshfel Consumption Monitor which analyses the production, trade and consumption trends for fresh fruit and vegetables in the European Union’s 28 member states (EU-28). Produce Business UK takes a look at the most recent findings

The analysis of the latest available data (up to 2013) illustrates that consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in the EU-28 stands at 341.82 grams per capita per day in 2013. Although this represents a slight increase of 5.6% against 2012, in comparison to the average of the last five years (2008-2012) the figure represents a decrease of 1.9%.

As a result, consumption levels in the EU-28 remain under the minimum 400g-per-day-threshold recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, out of the 28 member states, only six – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Romania – are able to meet this level of consumption.

While the average aggregate consumption of fruit and vegetables in the EU stands at 341.81g/day in 2013, fruit consumption reached 188.60g/capita/day. This is 10.1% more than in 2012, but still 1.5% less than the average of the years 2008-2012.

In terms of vegetables, per capita consumption in 2013 stands at 153.22g/capita/day, representing an increase of 0.5% against 2012, and of 2.3% compared with the average of the previous five years.

What do the figures mean?

Philippe Binard, general delegate of Freshfel, explains that the Consumption Monitor shows that fresh fruit and vegetable consumption in the EU has slightly increased in 2013. “Nonetheless, on the longer-term perspective, it still shows an insufficient level of consumption across the EU and an overall decreasing trend,” he points out.

“The moderate increase in 2013 is a positive signal, although the market and economic situation in 2014 and 2015 remains challenging for different reasons. The continuous low consumption makes it urgent to continue to stimulate fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.”

Freshfel remains adamant in its demand for a coherent EU policy to enhance healthy eating habits for European consumers, including a “resourceful and flexible fruit and vegetables school scheme” – the School Fruit Scheme – and a reinforced EU promotion policy for agricultural products.

Philippe Binard adds: “While consumers are usually aware of the multiple benefits and assets of fresh fruit and vegetables, they unfortunately do not convert this knowledge into concrete consumption decisions. Efficient EU tools could help to fill this gap.”

Freshfel Europe is encouraging the produce sector to move forward and highlight the unique features of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as their freshness, diversity, taste but also fun, pleasure, and convenience. Freshfel is also committed to obtaining better knowledge of European consumers to better match their expectations.

Obtaining the Consumption Monitor

Indeed, this year Freshfel says it has adjusted its Consumption Monitor more rigorously in comparison to previous years, to outbalance some inconsistent data discovered in the previous version.

As such, the association claims this year’s figures are likely to be closer to the realistic EU average consumption than data in previous years. 

Freshfel also notes that although in general the Consumption Monitor shows general tendencies “quite reliably”, they should not be seen as “a source of hard consumption facts”.
Copies of the Freshfel Consumption Monitor are available from Freshfel Europe. Freshfel Members can receive the report free of charge, while non-members can purchase it at a rate of €500 (£364). 

Copies of the Freshfel Consumption Monitor are available from Freshfel Europe. Freshfel Members can receive the report free of charge, while non-members can purchase it at a rate of €500 (£364).

The document includes the following sections: 

1. Total gross supply of fruit and vegetables in the EU-28, including trends in production, exports and imports of fruit and vegetables (covering 2008-2013).

2. A comparative review of consumption trends across the EU-28 (covering 2008-2013).

3. A review of the total net supply, trends in production exports and imports of fruit and vegetables in the EU-28 (covering 2008-2013.

More information on Europe’s fresh produce consumption can also be obtained from the Freshfel Secretariat.

Visit Freshfel’s consumer website: enjoyfresh.eu

Visit Freshfel’s website dedicated to kids, parents and teachers: kidsenjoyfresh.eu

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