Vegies: Aussie intake “unacceptably low”
AUSVEG, the peak industry body for vegetable growers, is urging Australians to buy more vegies to give themselves the best opportunity to meet the guidelines for daily vegetable intake. This follows the release of a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which indicates that Australians are only buying enough vegies for 2.3 daily serves. This is well short of the recommended five or more daily serves.
The ABS figures were taken from the recently published Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs, Australia, 2018–19, which reported on sales of foods from supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience and specialty stores.
“Apparent consumption” refers to the amount of food purchased based on sales data. It doesn’t measure actual consumption as it doesn’t account for food purchased from restaurants, fast food and cafes, or food not eaten because of waste or storage.
Buy more to eat more
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside says these figures are concerning. A veg-rich diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle thanks to the many health benefits that come from eating vegies.
“The message is clear,” he says. “You need to buy enough vegetables so that you can eat enough vegetables. The reality is that most Australians are setting themselves up for failure in meeting the recommended intake of vegetables by not buying enough.”
The report investigated apparent consumption through sales data and not actual consumption. This means it’s likely that the current intake of vegies is actually lower than this report indicates, particularly at the moment due to the pandemic.
“People tend to eat more vegetables when they’re able to eat out at restaurants and cafes,” Whiteside says. “The disruption of the foodservice sector from the pandemic has severely limited this avenue. People are not buying more vegetables to compensate.”
Consumption on the slide
The recommended daily vegetable intake used in the report is derived from the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. This recommends that adults should eat at least five servings of veg a day. One serving is equivalent to half a cup of cooked vegetables, half a medium potato or one cup of salad vegetables.
“The health benefits of increasing vegetable consumption are well-documented,” Whiteside says. “But the rates of consumption are still unacceptably low – and getting lower.”