Tom Karst
Tom Karst

Europeans apparently don't have the answer to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. What's more, they are struggling to maintain the status quo.

In a Freshfel news release, the European Fresh Produce Association said that the newest edition of the "Freshfel Consumption Monitor" shows a sharp 7.8% decline in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption within the EU-27 in 2010 compared with the previous year. Put in the context of comparing the 2010 figure with the average of the last five years, fresh fruit and vegetable consumption is off 10.3%.

From the news release:

Philippe Binard, General Delegate of Freshfel, commented: “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. A more cautious approach by consumers to limit waste might alleviate the decline by effectively consuming what is purchased, but this corrective effect would unfortunately not be sufficient to remedy the negative trend.”

According to Ramon Rey, Freshfel‟s President, “the monitor contains an impressive source of information on trends in the EU-27 Member States and also identifies consolidated EU trends. It is a unique report and a valuable tool for companies in the fresh produce sector and public sector alike.” More than ever, the sector would need a collective effort of all stakeholders to stimulate the consumption.

Operators from the private sector as well as public authorities need to join forces to remedy such a dramatic trend. Mr Rey added: “In the last years Freshfel took the lead for the sector at the European level to engage in a proactive attitude to halt this negative trend. The launch of the ENJOY FRESH website ( is a positive step that has been welcome by many as filling a gap. These first steps will still have to be reinforced by building a network platform around ENJOY FRESH, incorporating both public and private stakeholders who would like to join forces and expertise to finally reverse this decline in consumption which has marked the last decade.”


TK: Ah, the elusive magic of the "public-private" partnership to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. What is the formula for success?

Meanwhile, the first news release from Fruit Logistica 2012  had some interesting references to global trends in fruit and vegetable production. From the release:

According to the latest figures from the AMI (agricultural market information service) in Bonn, 850 million tonnes of vegetables (excluding melons) and 725 million tonnes of fruit (including melons) were produced worldwide in 2011. Production figures for both fruit and vegetables have steadily increased over the past few years.

Apple production in the Northern Hemisphere increased in 2011, while citrus fruit production remained at the previous year's figures. Melons are the most frequently harvested fruit, followed by bananas. Together they account for a volume of 100 million tonnes. Equally important are apples, grapes and oranges with a harvest of around 70 million tonnes. 

Together, the five most important fruit varieties make up 60% of the total harvest. The spectrum is more varied for vegetables with the five leading varieties (tomatoes, onions, cabbage, cucumbers and aubergines) accounting for only about 45% of total production. Around 10% of the worldwide production of key fruit varieties is traded internationally. For fresh vegetables, this figure is only 3-4%.

TK: The AMI reports talks of a steady increase in fruit and vegetable production over the past few years, yet consumption trends in Europe and other developed markets seem to suggest otherwise. Illumination, gentlemen?

By the way, check out the "Who is going to Fruit Logistica" thread at the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group. 

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