Recession Takes Toll on Produce Intake

Produce For Better Health Foundation's fourth annual moms survey found that mothers are including fewer fruits and vegetables in their families' diets since the recession came into full swing. It is the survey's first year noting a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption. Reported fruit consumption has dropped 12% since a year ago, and vegetable consumption is down 6%. The survey

WILMINGTON, Del. — Produce For Better Health Foundation's fourth annual moms survey found that mothers are including fewer fruits and vegetables in their families' diets since the recession came into full swing. It is the survey's first year noting a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Reported fruit consumption has dropped 12% since a year ago, and vegetable consumption is down 6%. The survey points to the nation's current economic recession for the negative impact on mothers' attitudes and behaviors regarding fruits and vegetables, especially in lower-income households.

PBH is sharing this information with retailers and shippers to increase produce consumption through more effective promotions. The organization offers several toolkits to licensed retailers to assist with their POS and POP displays and communication materials.

“We shared the results of the survey at our annual board meeting held April 2-4, 2009, in Monterey, Calif., and held two panel discussions, one with members of the research committee and a couple of retailers, and one with a mix of growers/shippers/processors and retailers to discuss how they use the results of the surveys in their business,” Kristen Stevens, senior vice president of PBH, said. Retailers have used the results of past surveys to help tailor messaging on in-store point-of-sale displays and materials, to plan marketing and public relations programs and to compare with results of their own consumer panels and focus groups.

The survey was the third round of the Generation X Mom Survey on attitudes, knowledge and beliefs related to the consumption of fruits and vegetables, Stevens said. One thousand Gen X moms were surveyed from across the country on Jan. 16-22.

On average, respondents reported consuming 2.38 servings of fruit and 2.32 servings of vegetables each day this year. By contrast, in 2008, respondents reported 2.71 servings of fruits and 2.48 servings of vegetables; in 2007, respondents reported 2.17 servings of fruits and 2.3 servings of vegetables; and 2006 Gen X moms said they consumed 1.96 servings of fruits and 2.21 servings of vegetables.

Although this is the first year in which the survey has reflected a decrease in consumption, average consumption reported by respondents is still higher than 2007. PBH representatives said that healthy eating initiatives, such as the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters campaigns, were still having a positive, long-term effect on fruit and vegetable consumption, and that the current decline in consumption is due to shoppers cutting back on spending due to the recession.

PBH has added tips, recipes and other resources to help moms make adding more fruits and vegetables to their families' diet easier and more affordable. For example, to stretch food budgets, PBH suggests mothers can tap all forms of fruits and vegetables — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice.