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UK consumers believe a balanced diet is more important than daily targets for eating fruit and vegetables

15 October 2012

  • 88% of UK consumers admit they do not eat five portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis
  • 58% of UK consumers believe that a balanced diet is more important than a daily fruit and veg target

New research by consumer experts Canadean Consumer has revealed that consumers continue to eat less than the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables with a balanced diet considered more important. 

The results showed that 88% of consumers admit to not eating five portions of fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. This is true of consumers across all ages: 84% of those aged 55 years and over do not eat the recommended amount per day, while this rises to an incredible 92% of 18-24 year olds. 

When examining the reasons behind the attitude of UK consumers, Canadean Consumer found that 58% felt a balanced diet was more important, while 31% said eating fruit and vegetables can be inconvenient as they are “messy” and can “go off quickly”. In addition, 29% of consumers said fruit and vegetables were too expensive to eat five a day, while the same number said that they are too busy to make “home cooked meals” which include fruit and vegetables.

And yet despite this, it is clear that consumers remain aware of why they should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Only 18% of consumers agree with the statement “I do not believe it is necessary to have five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.”

There are notable differences across demographic groups when it comes to perceived cost and convenience of eating fruit and vegetables, with social status playing a big part. Among those of higher social status, 35% say they are too busy to make home cooked meals; while only 23% of those of lower social status say time is an issue. Conversely, 28% of higher social status consumers believe that fruit and vegetables are too expensive to eat five portions a day; but this is true for 32% of consumers of lower social status.

Commenting on the findings, Ed Barham, Research Director at Canadean Consumer, said: “It appears that the target of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day is to remain an aspiration for the time being. While consumers generally understand the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, it is clear that convenience and perceived cost remain barriers to consumption. More will need to be done to make consumption seem easy and affordable. Furthermore, some consumers may see the ‘5 a day’ message as an arbitrary quota. Their first priority is to have a balanced diet, and ultimately to them this rates to be more important than eating a certain amount of fruit and vegetables.”

Figure 1: Which of the following statements about eating 5 portions of fruit or veg a day apply to you (% UK respondents, n=2,000) 2012

Which of the following statements about eating 5 portions of fruit or veg a day apply to you (% UK respondents, n=2,000) 2012

Source: Canadean © Canadean

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