Freshfel Europe has published its latest edition of the Freshfel Consumption Monitor, an annual report which analyses the production, trade and consumption trends for fresh fruit and vegetables in the European Union.
The analysis of the latest available data (up to 2014) shows that consumption in the EU stands at 353g of fresh fruit and vegetables per capita per day, representing an increase of 1.6 per cent compared to 2013 and a slight 0.3 per cent increase compared to the last five years (2009-2013).
This is the second year that consumption has increased slightly, which Freshfel said marked a hopeful sign of recovery of consumption for the fresh fruit and vegetables sector, and one that gave the organisation "room for careful optimism".
In the 2014 study year, EU citizens consumed on average 192g of fruit and 161g of vegetables each day.
Fruit consumption is more on the rise than vegetable consumption, with fruit consumption increasing by 1.2 per cent year-on-year which is also an increase of 1.2 per cent on the average of the previous five years.
Vegetable consumption climbed by 2 per cent on 2013 but showed a small decrease of 0.7 per cent when compared with the five-year average.
While aggregate consumption still remains below the minimum recommendations of 400g by the World Health Organisation, overall Freshfel said it was a "positive sign" that consumption had increased again slightly, which the organisation said hopefully would continue in the future.
To build on this positive development, authorities, as well as the sector, should continue to further build on the factors that are leading to improve the consumption trends in the society," the group added.
“The findings of the Freshfel Monitor confirm our general perception that the fresh fruit and vegetables consumption is recovering slightly from the negative trends experienced since the turn of the century," said Philippe Binard, general delegate of Freshfel. "Fruit and vegetables are becoming again more popular to European consumers. The sector is managing to better position fresh produce within the changing lifestyle environment of consumers while building the growth on its multiples assets of fresh produce.
"Besides the quality and diversity of fresh produce, the sector can also rely new drivers such as the greater focus of consumers on healthy diet, the search for freshness as well as increased attention for veggie-inspired lifestyles," he added. "These are some of the factors driving this trend that seems to be further consolidating in 2015 and 2016.”
According to Freshfel, the trends demonstrate the long-term efficiency of activities to promote the fruit and vegetable category to consumers through public or private money, showing the relevance and the return on investment of European policies gearing at increasing consumption.
The reinforced budget for promotion and information of agricultural products and also the increased resources for educational activities within school fruit and vegetables scheme have started to deliver results, the group noted, while policies that stimulate healthier choices should be further encouraged, including namely simplified rules in regard to health and nutrition claims for fruit and vegetables to better assist the sector to take advantages of the policy.
To further build on this positive trend, Freshfel Europe together with Copa Cogeca, has launched a social media campaign #FruitVeg4You to raise awareness of the category and to help stimulate the consumption.
Meanwhile, on the 19-20 June, Freshfel will join forces with Profel on the occasion of its annual event in Brussels to better explore future opportunity for the category and to reinforce the position of fruit and vegetables in European policy.