New research shows that more New Zealanders than ever are eating the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, but many struggle to find the time to prepare fresh produce.
The survey conducted in June this year by independent research company NielsenIQ* found 40 percent of us are getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day while the 13 percent who only ate one serving in 2017 has decreased to just 9 percent of the population.
Carmel Ireland, Project Manager at The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust which commissioned the research is pleased with the increasing popularity of fresh produce.
“It’s great to see New Zealanders are, on the whole, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables as they are proven to be one of the best sources of nutrition for all the whānau,” she says.
Despite growing numbers enjoying the benefits of a diet high in fresh produce, the survey identified a number of hurdles that prevent shoppers from adding more fruit and vegetables to their supermarket trolley.
“Since our last survey in 2017, the number of families concerned about the price of fruit and vegetables has dropped significantly while concerns about the time involved in food preparation is becoming a much more important factor for shoppers,” says Ireland.
Even with rising inflation in our post-COVID economy, only 36 percent remain concerned about prices of fruit and vegetables, a drop of 12 percent since research conducted in 2017. Meanwhile, nearly 20 percent found they lacked the time to prepare or cut up fresh produce.
“We’re seeing an increasing trend of time-poor families that have less and less time to prepare home-cooked meals with high quality fresh fruit and vegetables. Many of our retailers are recognising this change and producing ready-to-use, pre-cut vegetable mixes to enable whānau to serve up easy, healthy dinners in a hurry,” says Ireland.
In addition to preparation time, storing fruit and vegetables is also a common concern for around 20 percent of shoppers, New Zealanders throw away an estimated $2.4 billion worth of food each year, much of it fresh produce that has gone to waste.
“We’ve all experienced the feeling of throwing away some fruit or vegetables that are past their best from the back of the fridge. Meal planning is a great way to reduce your food waste and ensure you use up every bit of the groceries you’ve paid for each week,” says Ireland.
“Weekend meal preparation is also growing in popularity as a smart habit to make sure you have nutritious meals every night of the week and don’t have to rely on takeaways when you’re stretched for time,” she says.
Sources of inspiration for new recipes are also changing with online resources replacing books, television and instore recipe cards. Instagram, YouTube and TikTok are the fastest growing platforms, accounting for 30 percent of the sources used by home cooks looking for new ways to prepare their 5+ A Day.
“Our Instagram account, @5adaynz, is an excellent source of recipes to please even the fussiest member of your whānau,” says Ireland.
“We also provide regular tips and tricks on how to store your fresh produce to ensure it lasts as long as possible and help you make the most out of your weekly fruit and vegetable shop.”
*The 5+ A Day Awareness and Consumption Survey was administered by independent research company NielsenIQ and involved interviews with 700 New Zealanders between June 16 and June 23, 2021.