A research study by The Bord Bia Thinking House has shown that Irish people have increased their daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
Compared to a similar study carried out in 2017, daily consumption of fresh vegetables has increased by 7% to 58%, with fresh fruit consumption up 6% to 51%. This growth is being driven by the 18 - 34 age group, for whom the health benefits of fresh produce is increasingly important.
However, the study also revealed that people are consuming on average 3.9 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, less than the Healthy Eating Guidelines of up to 7 servings. Additionally, while 87% of consumers are eating fresh fruit and vegetables 3-4 times each week, just over five in ten people eat fresh produce daily.
The research revealed that almost half (49%) of consumers believe the most important in-store factor driving their purchase decision is the appearance of fresh produce. Additionally, 46% claim to manage the amount they buy in order to avoid food waste.
The study also identified a number of barriers to eating fresh fruit and vegetables including:
• Habitual shopping and consumption patterns - 46% of people claim to buy the same produce week-on-week and 33% know what they are going to buy before they go shopping. The majority of consumers associate eating fruit and vegetables with certain times of the day, with the evening meal occasion accounting for almost half of all fresh food consumption.
• Health benefits lack specificity and tangibility – while the ‘five a day’ message is strongly embedded, and people are claiming to eat more fruit and vegetables, the majority are only managing to consume 3 to 4 portions a day.
• Lack of confidence in cooking and preparing - People want to learn more about cooking with fresh produce, with 28% saying they would buy more fruit and vegetables if they knew how to store it to prolong freshness.
Lorcan Bourke, Fresh Produce and Potato Manager, Bord Bia said, “It is really encouraging to see increased fresh produce consumption coming through in younger age groups. However, as the research highlights, consumers are continuing to shop and eat fresh produce based on habit and this is holding people back from consuming more fruit and vegetables.
'COVID-19 has made people reconsider their relationship with nutrition, food and cooking and as a result many of us are more aware of the immunity boosting and health benefits of fruit and vegetables. This represents a real opportunity for the Horticulture sector and this research will allow us to explore new growth opportunities across all fruit and vegetable categories.
'The findings have influenced Bord Bia’s new Best In Season campaign and they will also provide the wider industry with cutting edge insight on consumer attitudes to the fresh produce sector.”