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Brits are eating fewer vegetables than at any time in the last 50 years as grocery costs spiral, analysis finds


  • Low income households are being priced out of eating a healthy diet, data shows

Britons are eating fewer vegetables than at any time in the last 50 years, putting health at risk against the background of spiralling prices.

Analysis of government data suggests many low income households are being priced out of eating a healthy diet.

The figures come on the back of reports that vegetable prices are rising ahead of Christmas, plus new research showing shocking obesity levels are putting a huge strain on the NHS.

Defra’s Family Food Survey captures purchases of food by UK households from supermarkets, restaurants and take-aways, including in dishes such as ready meals.

The study shows that purchases of vegetables fell from an average of 182g per day in 2020-21 to 154g in 2021-22 and they are thought to have fallen further since then.

Britons are eating less vegetables than at any time in the last 50 years, with many low income households becoming priced out of having a healthy diet, analysis suggests

Britons are eating less vegetables than at any time in the last 50 years, with many low income households becoming priced out of having a healthy diet, analysis suggests

The figures are published as part of the Peas Please initiative, which is led by The Food Foundation with partners Nourish Scotland, Food Sense Wales, Nourish NI and Food NI.

Separately, Food Foundation’s analysis of data collected by retail analysts Kantar found the weight of the average shopping basket that is composed of vegetables has fallen from 7.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent over the past six years.

The Kantar basket data for 2022-23 showed vegetables made up just 5.9 per cent of the weight of shopping baskets where average earnings are below £10,000. This compares to 8.2 per cent where earnings are over £70,000.

Several key vegetables such as carrots and potatoes have increased in price by more than 10 per cent in just the past month, according to analysis by The Grocer’s figures collected by data experts Assosia.

The Foundation said: ‘Vegetables are the golden thread connecting diets that are both healthier and more sustainable, and there would be huge benefits for our health, the environment, and the UK’s economy if we were all able to hit the recommendations for vegetable consumption.’ 

Data for 2022-23 showed that vegetables made up just 5.9 per cent of the weight of an average shopping basket where earnings are less than £10,000 (Stock Image)

Data for 2022-23 showed that vegetables made up just 5.9 per cent of the weight of an average shopping basket where earnings are less than £10,000 (Stock Image)

The Peas Please project launched in 2017 with a mission to make it easier for everyone in the UK to eat more veg. Since then, 110 organisations, from restaurant chains, caterers and manufacturers to growers and retailers, have committed to veg pledges that support the public to be able to access more veg.

Rebecca Tobi, senior business and investor manager at the Food Foundation, said: ‘With some 17 million households living with food poverty many are likely to be cutting back on healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables given that these are a more expensive source of calories in comparison to other food groups.

‘We urgently need to see businesses stepping up to make eating veg the easy and affordable option, and more support from the Government to ensure that everyone is able to access and afford a healthy diet.’



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