Wednesday 10th October 2012, 17:32 London
Troubling statistics from Defra
UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reports that the global economic downturn has hit the fresh produce sector hard
A new publication from DEFRA in the UK shows that the fresh produce industry has been been one of the hardest-hit sectors in the food industry since the global recession started in 2007.
DEFRA's Food Statistics Pocketbook 2012 shows that fruit and vegetable consumption is in decline in lower-income households, and that between 2007-10, the poorest 10 per cent of UK households cut consumption of fruit and vegetables by 25 and 15 per cent respectively.
In comparison, beverages remain the largest manufacturing group with a gross value added (GVA) of £5.8bn (€7.2bn) in 2010, covering 23 per cent of the food sector.
The report reads: "Low-income households bought more alcoholic drinks than fruit and vegetables, possibly because prices for alcoholic drinks rose less than prices of food."
Purchases of fruit and vegetables (excluding potatoes) were highest in the south west and London, with consumption at an average of 4.5 portions per person per day, still under the government targets set by the 5-A-DAY scheme.
DEFRA claims that fruit and vegetables in the UK are 22 per cent more expensive than the EU average, and currently only cost more on average in Germany, Ireland, Austria and Sweden.
Furthermore, the report states that fruit and vegetables are the food category with the highest trade deficit, with the value of imports standing at £8.1bn (€10bn) in 2011, while exports were valued at just £0.9bn (€1.1bn).
And with fruit and vegetables accounting for 20 and 24 per cent of all waste in the home, compared to an average of 17 per cent for all other foods, Liz Goodwin, CEO of government-backed waste reduction group WRAP, admitted: "One of the big challenges the hospitality and foodservice sector currently faces is tackling the vast amount of food and packaging waste it produces and currently disposes of to landfill each year."