UK families would have to spend more than half their current average annual food bill on fruit and veg to hit the government’s 5- a-day target, new figures compiled for The Grocer have revealed.

A study by Kantar Worldpanel found the average household spends £690 on fruit and vegetables.

But they would need to almost double that to £1,500 - more than half their current average £2,900 annual food bill - to achieve the recommended intake, Kantar’s Shopandscan-based research showed.

The average consumer spends £230 a year on fruit & veg - way less than the near £500 a year required at current prices - and eats 2.4 of their five portions a day, with just one in 10 people hitting the target each week.

The prohibitive cost was a major factor in keeping this figure down, said Kantar Worldpanel director Giles Quick.

“It is an incredibly high figure. In fact, it’s almost impossibly high. I think it’s got to the point where a lot of people just give up.”

Kantar said more than half of all shopping baskets (53%) contained no fruit, vegetables or salad. For baskets that did contain fruit & vegetables, produce accounted for just 15% of overall spend.

Earlier this month, the BRC-Nielsen shop price index report found that despite the lowest level of fresh food inflation since June 2010 (down 0.1% in the year to August), rising fruit prices had been putting upwards pressure on inflation over the past 12 months. However, vegetables had recorded lower inflation than the sector as a whole.

Kantar said that despite supermarket price cuts to everyday fresh goods, the cost of both fruit and vegetables had been on an upward trajectory since January.

The average cost of vegetables per kilo was £1.54 in July versus £1.48 in January, it found. The cost of fruit was £1.99 per kilo compared with £1.87 at the start of the year.

Public health England last week submitted a report to the DH that said nearly a quarter (23%) of people regarded healthy eating as “only for those that can afford it.”

A panel of experts will next month begin talks to advise Public Health England how to revamp the 5 a day programme. The plans include allowing ready meals to carry the official government 5 a day logo for the first time, to make hitting the target more affordable. Apathy towards the scheme was particularly notable among 17-24 year olds, and were the worst at hitting the target, he added.