This is a guest blog post by Eve Pearce:
Overcoming Barriers to Fruit and Vegetable Purchasing to Increase Consumption
A 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted that only a third of American adults meet recommendations for daily fruit intake and even less for vegetables.
This is despite widespread delivery of the message that we need to eat more of this important food group. Food choices are complex and rarely do people make a purchase based on nutritional considerations alone; fruit and vegetables are no exception.
Knowledge of the factors influencing people’s purchasing of fruit and vegetables isn’t just important to those working within the area of health promotion. It’s also relevant to those within the fruit and vegetable industry, who also have a role to play in increasing the nation’s intake of their produce.
From this, it’s possible to identify how these barriers can be overcome through the use of practical measures that have the potential to influence fruit and vegetable consumption.
A good overview of this subject was published by a team at the University of Leeds in the UK in 2002, which evaluated 494 global articles relevant to factors influencing fruit and vegetable intake. This highlighted a number of common themes that had been consistently shown to impact on someone’s choices in relation to fruit and vegetables. Since then further research has added to our knowledge of the subject. Here we take a look at these influencing factors and suggest the application of this knowledge for increasing purchasing by the public.
With those on the lowest incomes, price is the most important factor influencing the purchase of fruit and vegetables. Indeed a recent Dutch study showed that when 50% discount coupons were provided to be redeemed against fruit and vegetables, this increased the amount bought each fortnight in comparison to the provision of extra nutrition advice, which had little impact.
With imported goods available all year, consumers have perhaps forgotten which fruit and vegetables are in season at any particular time. Use of seasonal crops grown close to home offers far better value for money to consumers, allowing them to purchase more fresh produce on each trip to buy their groceries. Education of consumers on this point, therefore offers great potential to boost fruit and vegetable consumption. This is particularly relevant to people within lower socioeconomic groups who are statistically more likely to suffer chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, for which fruit and vegetable intake can offer a degree of protection.