With the benefits of fruit and vegetables appearing increasingly in the media, the NFU has commissioned a study to better understand consumer behaviour and eating patterns. Lee Abbey, a horticulture adviser at the NFU, considers why people don’t eat more fruit and veg, even though they know it’s good for them:
In December last year NFU commissioned a study to understand the reasons why consumers are not connecting with healthy eating messages and buying more British fruit and vegetables, and what should be done by government, retailers and suppliers to bridge this gap.
Through this study, we will identify practical ways of enabling consumers to eat more healthily; from retail store layout, on-pack messaging and reformulation to school and workplace canteen layouts and much more.
Already the NFU recommendations are starting to take shape and we have begun consulting with retailers to get them on board and take these recommendations forward. The response has been really positive. Healthy eating is high on retailers’ agendas and they are crying out for evidence which enables them to implement new strategies. Similarly, with the long-awaited government obesity strategy expected to be published any time now, the NFU will be in prime position to offer solutions to the problems it highlights.
This week, there was yet more news that consuming fruit and vegetables offers significant health benefits and reduces risks of illness, with the national press reporting on findings that eating your five-a-day during adolescence could reduce the risk of breast cancer by a quarter.
Add this to the plethora of studies that show diets high in fruits and vegetables can reduce obesity, diabetes and many cancers and you would think that our health problems were solved. All we have to do now is eat more fruit and veg.
But we still don’t do it!
The science is forging ahead. Our understanding of the benefits of fruits and vegetables increases rapidly and new reports such as this should be welcomed. But consumers are falling way behind.
Arguably, for the average shopper, the ‘Eureka’ moment happened long ago and no new evidence which tells us to eat more fruit and veg will make any difference. So we want to understand how to help consumers really connect with this message and turn it into new behaviours.
Increasing fruit and veg consumption is great for us all. It increases consumer health and combats disease. It helps retailers meet their pledges under the public health responsibility deal. And it is great for British growers who will be able to operate in a growing market. So it’s about time we pulled together to make this happen. And that is exactly why the NFU is driving this forward.