Current average consumption of fruits and vegetables globally is much lower than the World Health Organization recommended intake of 400 g per person per day. In the US, only 6 to 8% of consumers hit their recommended daily target for vegetables and fruit, with the average American consuming only 1.8 cups per day. In Europe, consumption stands at only 220 g per person per day for adults. And just 5.6% of Australian adults overall had an adequate daily consumption of fruit and vegetables.
In an effort to increase consumption, countries including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and several countries in the EU have conducted multi-million-dollar informational and educational campaigns over the past decade. Indeed, the US has spent roughly $3 to $5 million per year on the “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters” campaign since its launch in 2007. It’s estimated that the Danish “6 a day” campaign is costing approximately DKK 4 million (US $0.73 million) per year, while Australia’s national “Go for 2&5” campaign conducted between 2005 and 2007 cost AUD 4.76 million (US $4.17 million).
Despite targeting behavior, most of the interventions have led to only small increases in fruit and vegetable intake when compared with the increases required to meet the recommended daily levels of consumption. In the US, survey results between 2004 and 2009 showed that while consumers’ fruit and vegetable intake remained unchanged at 1.81 cups per person per day, it did increase for children less than 6 years old and between 6 and 12 years old, by 7% and 5%, respectively. More promising still was that brand awareness of the “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters” slogan and logo increased from 11% in 2007 to 26% in 2012, according to the researchers.
The Australian “Go for 2&5” campaign lacked support from the fruit and vegetable industry, ultimately falling short of its goal, given that only 5.6% of Australian adults met the daily recommended intake for fruit and vegetable consumption in 2011–2012, according to the researchers.
The Danish fared better, with vegetable and fruit consumption for the 4- to 10-year-old group increasing by 29% and 58% respectively between 1995 and 2004, and 41% and 75%, respectively, for 11- to 75 year olds. All told, for the period 2003–2008, the average intake of vegetables and fruits for adults (18–75 years old) averaged 445 g per person per day, higher than the minimum WHO recommended level.