Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is fronting a new campaign to raise funds for a high-profile marketing campaign for vegetables.
The chef and food campaigner is working with the Peas Please initiative to lobby for a Veg Ad Fund to encourage consumers to eat more vegetables.
It comes as new research shows that only five per cent of the £296.6 million spent on confectionary, snacks, fruit, veg and soft drink marketing in the UK every year is spent on fresh produce. Put another way, the UK's annual fruit and vegetable advertising budget is used up just 19 days into the new year.
The idea is that a dedicated Veg Ad Fund, made up of contributions from the government, retailers and producers would enable vegetables to receive marketing investment that will see veg better competing with branded chocolates, fast food outlets and soft drinks.
The Peas Please initiative has marked the launch of the campaign by announcing the winner of its vegetable ad competition, which it organised last year. The competition asked design agencies and students to come up with a veg ad for children and young people, and it received over 60 entries.
The winner, designed by agency ifour, was chosen by children from Wales, Scotland and England, advertising stalwart Sir John Hegarty from Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Michael Moszynksi from London Advertising.
The winning advert will be displayed this week in over 5,000 locations nationwide, including all Co-op stores, street art located alongside the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, a projection onto the City Chamber in Edinburgh as well as in thousands of primary and secondary school canteens across the UK.
Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “It’s time to shout about how great veg is, and how vital it is for families to buy, cook and eat more of it. But unlike all the junk food and confectionery we are relentlessly sold every day, our delicious vegetables are not “owned” by massive global brands - so they don’t get the marketing and advertising clout they deserve. Having a pooled marketing budget from retailers, producers and government is a brilliant idea - it means we can get top agencies behind the marketing of veg, which will drive up demand and boost consumption.”
Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, said: “There is not just one answer to tackle the nation’s diet crisis. We are working with businesses to help make the food environment healthier but advertising plays a vital role. At the moment advertising is skewed towards junk food and we need a more balanced playing field to help support us all, and particularly children, to eat more veg."