A new report has been launched by the NFU setting out recommendations of how to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the diet.
The aim of the report is to help reverse the current obesity crisis and help combat other diet related illnesses.
Obesity currently costs the NHS £5.1 billion per year and the NFU is calling on Government, retailers, processors and the food service industry to develop and implement actions which are needed to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables from its current level of 3 a day to the recommended 5 a day.
The 34 ’Options for Action’ included within the ‘Fit for the Future’ report include multi-siting fruit and veg in more places in the store, redesigning food service areas to offer more prominence to fruit and veg, developing fun-shaped fruit and veg for kids; and adding at least one extra piece of veg to every ready meal.
NFU president, Meurig Raymond said while people understand the reasons why they should be eating more fruit and vegetables, consumption ’simply isn’t increasing and this has to change’.
He said: "We are calling on all parts of the industry and Government to work with us and to implement initiatives that will drive consumer purchases.
"Our growers produce healthy produce that can help people live longer and combat obesity, and now is the time to turn the rhetoric into action.
"We call upon our partners and Government to launch practical schemes that will enable consumers to choose healthier foods without having to dramatically change their lifestyles.
"Retailers have a responsibility to ensure store layouts and labelling is conducive to increasing consumption; the food service industry must think about the positioning and designing of food service areas; Government need to deliver consistent messaging and producers need to focus on a demand led strategy that can include better packaging and promotion for fruit and vegetables.”
The report highlights the ‘food swamping’ of healthy produce and the increasing ‘decision fatigue’ of consumers as two of the major stumbling blocks in increasing the consumption of fruit and veg in the UK.
The ’Options for Action’ have come as international studies show fruit purchases have fallen by 14 per cent since 2007, vegetables by 5 per cent and potatoes by 20 per cent.
Eating habits have moved from planned meals to ’ready to go’ convenience food which has inevitably affected consumer buying habits.
NFU horticulture board chairman Ali Capper said: “We have identified solutions that can be implemented now.
"We are passionate about seeing growth in the fresh produce sector to enable growers to invest in the future and continue to deliver great value and highly nutritious foods to the British public.
"We need all parts of the industry to make it easier and more convenient for consumers to buy and eat more fruit and veg”