Freshfel Europe urges industry to act now to close consumption gap with minimum health recommendation

On the occasion of the publication of the Freshfel Europe Consumption Monitor on December 16, 2021, experts from across Europe and the supply chain reviewed the latest consumption trends in 12 EU Member States and across Europe. UK. The Consumption Monitor, based on figures up to 2019, has been supplemented by an analysis of consumption trends in 2020 and 2021, which are characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Consumption Monitor figures indicate that fruit and vegetable consumption has decreased to 349.19 gr / capita / day, Freshfel Europe urges the industry to reap the environmental, climatic and health benefits of a plant-based diet. throughout 2022, with the objective of 400 gr / capita / day or half the plate at each meal.

Freshfel Europe today published its Annual Consumption Report and took stock with its members on the latest inventory of consumption trends, in particular after two atypical years marked by the consequences of COVID-19. The pandemic has dramatically altered the way of life of Europeans, in addition to increasing their sympathy for environmental causes and climate change. The latest figures from the Freshfel Europe Consumption Monitor show that in 2019, EU citizens consumed 349.19 gr / capita / day.

Stephan Weist, President of Freshfel Europe said: “The fresh produce sector has many reasons to be optimistic given the strengths of fresh fruit and vegetables. We must also be ambitious. Each additional 10 gr consumed by a European per day would lead at the end of the year to a boosted market size of 1.8 Mio T. Add a fruit or a vegetable and increase the average consumption above the 400 gr recommended by WHO would mean the need to provide nearly 15 Mio T more per year “

The meeting resulted in an agreement on the value of “Acting now”, which was also one of the mottos of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021. The fruit and vegetable sector must capitalize on the momentum created by the consensus among political leaders, consumers and NGOs on the benefits of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables for the planet, the climate and the health of consumers themselves. This is also reflected in the current priorities of the European agenda, such as the Green Deal, the farm to fork strategy, the FIT55 target, the circular economy action plan, as well as the European plan. fight against cancer.

The Freshfel Europe workshop provided an in-depth look at the consumption situation from different angles and perspectives. The meeting was inspired by the results of a pan-European study on the changing profile of consumers in 11 Member States, which focused on the age gap and the gender gap, adjusting the business model in the extraordinary period of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the paradox between local demand for online development and consumer perception of buzzwords in sustainability. Research shows that there is a clear segment interested in premium products among low income people, with flavor and freshness being the determining factors.

Experts from Freshfel Europe also reviewed the latest trends in 12 EU Member States as well as the UK. Although each market has its own specificities, it appeared that there are many common points regarding the expectations of European consumers. The most effective strategy to boost consumption would focus on consumers with less predilection for healthier eating rather than preaching to the converted. The youngest generation, including millennials in particular, must be given priority. Setting consumption goals like 5 a day as a campaign, eating in color, having half the plate with fruits and vegetables are important concepts to help consumers meet the challenge of eating at least 400 gr per day.

Despite concerns about the unstable economic situation, the shift in purchasing power based on the evolution of the net disposable income of the population between the East and West of the EU, and rising inflation, the sector will have to position itself in the food basket to convince new consumers to buy more fruits and vegetables, in particular those willing to pay more for superior quality and confidence in the product.

Philippe Binard, Managing Director of Freshfel Europe, said: “The trend towards higher prices and better compensation for the quality and value of fruit and vegetables could help the sector, which operates with tight margins, to cope to the latest price increase throughout the supply chain. In recent months, costs have risen sharply, particularly for production inputs, road and maritime logistics, packaging, energy and wages, while consumer prices are almost stable. One option to explore to alleviate the pressure would be to move across Europe exempt from VAT, considering fruits and vegetables as public goods, given their strengths in meeting current societal challenges. environment, climate and health.

The members of Freshfel Europe and EuroCommerce also reviewed during the workshop the initiatives taken by retailers in their commitment to “act sustainably” and to develop multiple initiatives in their stores to lead consumers to a healthier diet. and herbal. The brands’ most significant initiatives are to rethink the choices and offers of supermarkets, to improve access to fresh products and their quality, to develop loyalty programs for healthier food choices, to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables with campaigns such as “Peas” and other initiatives to improve the consumption of “super foods”, providing educational and informational material to consumers to promote nutritional and healthy eating, acting as a style coach of life by advising customers through food applications and actions to reduce food waste. The supply chain could gain a lot from working together to better position fresh produce in the assortment on retail shelves.

As one of the driving factors of the COVID-19 pandemic is the development of online sales, members of Freshfel Europe also reviewed the latest trends in online shopping. Nelli Hajdu, director
for Business Development at Freshfel Europe said: “This segment remains very fragmented and with very different penetration rates across the EU. Different models are developed through

Europe, from “Click & Collect” to home delivery, including other concepts such as online purchase from producers or home delivery of complete meal packs. The development of online sales for convenience and lifestyle, however, still demonstrates that consumers are willing to pay more for services like home delivery, as several studies have confirmed that the online segment is growing. even if they report the highest price per kg. It will be important to position fresh produce in this growing segment to ensure that it will not be an obstacle but rather an opportunity for the European fruit and vegetable sector, as is now the case in certain markets of Asia, especially China, which is experiencing incredible growth in sales of fresh produce through online portals.

In this state of play of consumption as analyzed by Freshfel Europe, the sector has a busy agenda for 2022. Freshfel Europe will continue to advise, guide and coordinate the perspective of the European sector in a chain approach. ‘supply. Philippe Binard concluded: “Freshfel Europe will actively work in 2022 towards new opportunities for the sector, resulting not only by following a farm to fork strategy, but also and above all from a fork to farm perspective. “

The workshop demonstrates the importance of meeting the diversity of consumer expectations and providing products according to their preferences, always of high quality, good taste and texture, as well as freshness and practicality. The opportunities resulting from sustainability expectations will also need to be met but kept sustainable for the sector in the current spiral of price increases in order to allow the sector to fully meet the new expectations and growth in the long term.

Boosting consumption will ultimately be a win-win situation for the planet, the health of consumers and the industry, with the objective of boosting consumption well beyond 400 g, leading to growth in the size of the market of almost 20%, which represents almost 15 million T. The Freshfel Consumption Monitor is available to Freshfel members but can be purchased by non-members for € 2,000.

For more information:
Gil kaufman
Freshfel Europe

Mary I. Bruner