Food Foundation progress report finds UK families buying less vegetables amid inflation

A new progress report from the Food Foundation has found that almost half of low-income families are buying less vegetables as inflation and rising prices severely impact the UK.

The newly published report from Peas Please, a diet-changing partnership led by the food and sustainability charity, has revealed that more than 100 supermarkets have signed up to tackle Britain’s public health and environmental crisis by boosting vegetable consumption.

Peas Please business pledgers have achieved 771 million extra portions of vegetables since it launched five years ago, with 147 million of them in the past 12 months alone – down from 461 million portions in 2021.

Subscribe to Grocery Gazette for free

Sign up here to get the latest grocery and food news each morning

The report also shows a widening nutrition gap between rich and poor. Among those earning less than £10,000, the proportion of vegetables being purchased fell in the past year while for those earning over £70,000 it remained the same.

They suggest a reason for this is because inflation for the price of veg is sitting at 14%, while the price of confectionary has been inflated by only 7%.

On top of that, businesses have been dealing with aftermath of covid, supply chain problems and an increasing number of extreme weather events that lead to crop yield failures – highlighting the worsening impact of climate change.

Other data in the report show people are buying lower volumes of food overall as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

However, the Peas Please team is keen to showcase efforts by committed businesses to combat these trends with examples of ‘veg innovation’ from a variety of our pledgers.

For example, Greggs, Giraffe and Ocado are among organisations receiving praise for achieving a green traffic light rating for successful efforts to change the direction of travel in the food industry.

“This has been a difficult year for food businesses and households, and things are likely to get worse as the cost-of-living crisis deepens,” senior business and investor engagement manager at The Food Foundation, Rebecca Tobi said.

She added: “Although we have seen Peas Please progress stall this year with worrying indications that families are having to cut back on veg, it is encouraging to see many of our pledgers continuing to work to champion veg.

“It has never been more important to make sure that households are still able to access and afford vegetables, with decisive action from the retail and out of home sectors to protect veg from the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis urgently needed in 2023.”

Charlie Parker, senior nutritionist at Ocado Retail, commented: “This year we pledged to increase our Ocado Own Brand range of fresh vegetables by 10% and ensure all of our main meal recipes in our Ocado Life Magazine contain at least one portion of vegetables – we’re proud to have achieved both of these targets.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Peas Please to make ‘5-a-day’ affordable, inspiring and achievable for our customers.”

Peas Please also partnered with Food Sense Wales for the initiative.

“This last year has been extremely difficult for our pledgers but a number of them have come together to respond to some of those challenges with supply chain innovation,” programme manager at Food Sense Wales, Katie Palmer said.

“This pilot involved a new entrant grower and included four of our Wales pledgers (Castell Howell, Tyfu Cymru, Cardiff Council and Food and Fun) to increase locally grown produce in the meals served in schools during the summer holidays as part of Welsh Government’s Food and Fun programme,” Palmer added.

The news comes as the UK is currently “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis unless the government steps in to help farmers, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.



Sign up to our daily newsletter to get all the latest grocery news and insights direct to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.