Report finds European fresh produce consumption heading downward

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Report finds European fresh produce consumption heading downward

Freshfel Europe has called for urgent action at all levels to stop the downward trend of fruit and vegetable consumption, which fell by 7.4% in 2010 alone.

The 'Freshfel Consumption Monitor', covering the 27 European Union countries over the period from 2005 to 2010, found consumption was down 10.3% for the last year of the study compared to the five-year average.

Philippe Binard

The report found the E.U.'s net fruit supply per capita stood at 235 grams (8.3oz) per day in 2010, while net vegetable supply per capita was slightly less at 223 grams (7.9 oz) per day.

Freshfel emphasizes that at an aggregate level this is still above the 400g (14.1 oz) per day minimum recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO), but below that threshold in too many states.

The report found that 12 European Union member countries - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia - were below the 400g/day threshold.

Cyprus, Greece and Romania were the biggest consumers per capita, exceeding 700g/day. Consumption was also high in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Austria.

The study compared fruit consumption in various countries in 2010 with their national averages between 2005-09, with the biggest percentage falls recorded for Greece, Malta and Austria. The majority of countries recorded a fall in fruit consumption in 2010, with the exception of Luxembourg, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia and Romania.

It was a similar case with vegetables, although fewer nations recorded a decline on the five-year average. The biggest falls were seen for the Netherlands, Hungary and Lithuania. However, per capita vegetable consumption grew in Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Portugal, Cyprus and Romania.

Freshfel general delegate Philippe Binard said lower consumption was likely the case in 2011 as well.

"Unfortunately, the data released demonstrates again that the consumption continued to be in worrying declining trends. While data for 2011 is not yet available, unfortunately the trend is likely to be prolonged also for 2011 given the impact of the economic crisis as well as the consequences of the EHEC outbreak," he said.

"A more cautious approach by consumers to limit waste might alleviate the decline by effectively consuming what is purchased, but this corrective effect would not be sufficient to remedy the negative trend."

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