Spurred to cook at home and wanting to remain healthy during the pandemic, British consumers have turned to more fruits and vegetables over the past year.
Tesco is just one of many retailers reporting it has seen soaring numbers of produce items being purchased – including some that were not staples becoming popular again. That is helping reverse trends that had seen UK residents eating just over one quarter of the recommended five portions per day.
Across the pond, however, consumption of healthy foods continue to be a problem, so much so that the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) announced renewed efforts to increase fruits and vegetable eating in the U.S. after an ongoing study showed significant declines.
The PBH’s State of the Plate, an analysis conducted every five years that tracks fruits and vegetable consumption in various forms, showed a nearly 10% decrease since 2004 when the reporting began.
In the past five years alone, overall consumption has declined by 3%, indicating the trend is worsening every year.
The most significant factors in this decline are reportedly a 16% decrease in vegetable consumption and a 15% drop in juice intake. Of every 10 people in the U.S., nine are not meeting the daily recommended value for fruits and vegetables.
Additional findings from the report show that vegetable intake has fallen in five out of age groups. The most notable declines were among adults over the age of 50, who typically eat the most vegetables.
Consumption is also down among older Millennials and children in both 1-3 and 4-8 age ranges. Of every 10 people in the U.S., 9 are not meeting the daily recommended value for fruits and vegetables.
“It is no exaggeration that we are in the midst of a fruit and vegetable consumption crisis in our country. Further, this underconsumption is not only pervasive among all age groups but it is also persistent,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of PBH.
“The PBH State of the Plate research report shows most Americans currently eat fruits and vegetables on just one occasion or less each day. A decline in fruit and vegetable eating occasions does not bode well for the future of fruit and vegetable intake and, most importantly, Americans’ health and happiness.”
Reinhardt Kapsak added that the data was particularly concerning considering worsening obesity rates and the current global crisis when “consuming foods that support our immune system like fruits and vegetables is even more critical”.
“Research continues to show that eating more fruits and vegetables is the single most important action people can take for better health and happiness,” she said “Yet, we’re clearly failing Americans in making this action easy and enjoyable, given the continued decline in consumption. The time is now to rethink and reimagine how we improve fruit and vegetable consumption in America.”
Moving forward, PBH and its members have declared the next five years as “A New Era of Conscious Consumption,” during which it intends to actively “help all Americans easily enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day”.
Through its Lead The Change Movement, PBH says that it is bringing together industry stakeholders, authorities, and influencers to find solutions to the challenges contributing to the gap in consumption.
“Conscious consumption is the act of having acute awareness regarding what we are purchasing and eating,” said Reinhardt Kapsak.
“Our choices have rippling effects, not just on our own health and emotional well-being, but also on our families, communities, and the environment. We know conscious consumption makes us and our world better, but we must simplify this call to action to realistically work within Americans’ lifestyles, across all ages and stages of life, socioeconomic levels, and cultural backgrounds.”