More veg please, we’re British (and locked down)

More than three-quarters (83%) of consumers changed how they planned, purchased and prepared their food during the first national lockdown, with over half (51%) claiming to have eaten more fruit and vegetables, according to the latest research by IGD.

The latest IGD data, drawn from 2,000 UK consumers through September and October 2020, showed there is a “unique opportunity” for food companies to help consumers “turn positive new habits adopted over the last few months into long-term changes to their diets”.

Despite years of campaigning, most consumers still only eat 3.4 portions of their recommended ‘five-a-day’. Habit, cost and confidence are significant barriers, said IGD head of nutrition and scientific affairs Hannah Pearse.

Our research shows four in 10 consumers think vegetables are not exciting, while almost the same number (38%) perceive healthier, sustainable diets to be more expensive and nearly six in 10 avoid buying certain vegetables because they don’t know what to do with them,” she explained.

Last week, research from the SHEFS consortium found that the average British family risks paying 4% more for their fruit and vegetables from January 1st 2021 should the UK leave the EU without a deal, compared with a 0.6% increase that would occur under a free trade agreement. The Food Foundation said that because food prices are a major driver of food choices, increases in prices are likely to reduce fruit and vegetable consumption.

IGD found that most consumers (61%) said it is “down to the supermarket to ensure food is healthy”. It has therefore used the research to produce a series of practical actions that businesses can take to help drive behaviour change and encourage consumers to eat more fruit and vegetables. These include:

  • Using positive language and imagery to market plant-based meals and meals containing extra vegetables
  • Creating “striking displays” of local and seasonal fruit and vegetables, in-store and online
  • Inspiring consumers to swap ingredients in their favourite recipes
  • Using online meal planners, giving shoppers the option of adding ingredients to an online basket as they go

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