Aussie veg 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, following 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 – 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, but does not measure actual consumption as it doesn’t account for food purchased from restaurants, fast foods and cafes, or food not eaten because of waste or storage.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside says that these figures are concerning, given the importance of a vegetable-rich diet in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the myriad health benefits that come from eating fresh vegies.
“The message is clear – you need to buy enough vegetables so that you can eat enough vegetables,” he says. “The reality is that most Australians are setting themselves up for failure in meeting the recommended intake of vegetables by not buying enough.”
Given the report investigated apparent consumption through sales data and not actual consumption, it’s likely that the current intake of vegetables is actually lower than this report indicates, particularly at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“People tend to eat more vegetables when they’re able to eat out at restaurants and cafes,” Whiteside says. “The disruption of the food service sector from the pandemic has severely limited this avenue, and people are not buying more vegetables to compensate.”
The recommended daily vegetable intake used in the report is derived from the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommends that adults should eat at least five servings of veg a day, with one serving of vegetables 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, but the rates of consumption are still unacceptably low – and getting lower,” Whiteside says.