Since inflationary pressures began, UK shoppers are spending nearly the same in supermarkets, but they are not filling their baskets with some of the most essential items to maintain their health: namely vegetables.
According to a new report released by the nonprofit Veg Power, the purchases on vegetables have fallen to 6.3% of basket value share, a significant dip from pre-pandemic levels. So the organisation, as it has done through its Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign has launched another one in hopes of boosting awareness. It is called Simply Veg, and it has the backing of more than a dozen chefs, food experts, writers, child psychologists and registered nutritionists.
“We’re seeing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis whereby shoppers are responding by spending the same amount on food but reducing the number of items in their basket,” said Dan Parker, chief executive of Veg Power. “That means difficult choices. Unfortunately, it appears that vegetables are proving to be one of the first items to be sacrificed, despite only a small increase in their price compared to other food items.
A recent study done by YouGov confirmed that more than a quarter of Brits have bought less vegetables in the past few months, citing inflation. Veg Power noted two other startling statistics – that 53% have felt priced out of healthy foods, while 49% of lower-income households have not been purchasing as many vegetables.
“Our worry is that these new shopping patterns become a habit that stays after the cost-of-living crisis has eased and will ultimately have a negative impact on the health of our nation,” Parker said. “We need to support people to keep the vegetables in their basket, and by joining Simply Veg, parents and carers will be able to serve more sustainable, healthy, and affordable food that their families will love.”
As it has done with Eat Them to Defeat Them, Veg Power has put the power of creative, fun and splashy marketing behind this initiative, too, while also continuing the pitch that children need to eat more veg. It plans to blitz social media – and everything else it does in promotions in the near future – with a lean toward Simply Veg. That means both engaging games and activities to increase the conversation around eating fresh and offering expert tips and recipes on how to purchase and create meals for less.
“”We’ve been listening closely to parents,” Veg Power officials said. ”Every year we survey thousands and run focus groups in lower income communities. The message that comes back is very clear. They are immensely motivated to improve their children’s diet, they have a clear idea of what they should be doing, but life’s challenges just get in the way.”
The list of those involved in the Simply Veg mission includes this star-studded group of food and health leaders:
- Priya Tew, award-winning dietitian and nutrition professional
- Bee Wilson, food writer and broadcaster and the author of five books,
- Dr Clare Holley, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Loughborough University
- Chris Collins, head of horticulture at Garden Organic
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, award winning writer and broadcaster
- Kim Smith, Co-Chair and Trustee at TastEd
- Ching He Huang MBE, award-winning TV chef and cookery author
- Bettina Campolucci Bordi, self-taught chef, plant advocate and cookbook author
- Tom Hunt, award-winning chef (Poco), food writer and food waste campaigner.
- Shivi Ramouta, cookbook author, food writer and TV presenter
- Nutritionists Dr Laura Wyness, Dr Glenys Jones, Charlotte Radcliffe, Zoe Griffiths and Jenny Rosborough