Fresh fruit consumption has increased by 27% over the past 40 years, but the U.S. intake of fruit remains well below recommended levels, according to a new government report.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s December fruit outlook report charts changes in consumption between 1970 and 2010 and found that bananas, strawberries and watermelons were among the fresh fruit winners, while apples and oranges suffered declines in per capita availability.
The report said that loss-adjusted per-capita consumption of 0.8 cups of fruits per day is 23% above the 1970 level of 0.6 cup. However, that is still far below the dietary guideline recommendation of two cups per person based on a 2,000-calorie per-day diet, according to the USDA.
“Intake would need to increase by 61% in order to meet the current requirement,” according to the report.
Fresh apple per-capita availability declined 9% from 1970 to 2010, from 17 pounds to 15.5 pounds. On the other hand, banana per-capita availability rose a whopping 47%, from 17.4 pounds to 25.6 pounds. Likewise, strawberry per capita availability rose dramatically, jumping 320% from 1.7 pounds in 1970 to 7.3 pounds in 2010.
The USDA said that bananas, strawberries, grapes, pineapples, cantaloupes and avocados accounted for most in the growth of noncitrus fresh per capita availability, which rose from 71.4 pounds in 1970 to 106.4 pounds in 2010. Apples, cranberries, peaches and plums experienced declines in consumption,the report said.
Hit by canker, citrus greening and acreage decline in Florida, fresh orange and grapefruit per-capita availability decreased from 24.4 pounds per person in 1970 to 12.5 pounds per person in 2010, according to the USDA summary. However, those slides were countered by a rise in the per capita availability of fresh tangerines, mandarins, tangelos, lemons and limes. That group of citrus varieties rose from 4.5 pounds per person in 1970 to 9.1 pounds in 2010.
“Changing consumer preference for easy-peel seedless fruits has led to more production in California,” according to the report.
Among all forms consumed, the USDA said that Americans concentrate 58% of their fruit consumption in only five products, with orange juice (19%), fresh apples (13%), apple juice (10%) and watermelons (5%) accounting for a majority of consumption.