Fruit and veg consumption has continued to fall in the UK, with Brits buying 0.9% less in 2010 than they did the previous year.

Purchases of fruit and veg were 7.5% lower in 2010 than in 2007, new figures from Defra show, and down 8.7% on 2006 levels.

Poor households have cut back the most, with those in the lowest income bracket buying almost a third (30%) less fruit and veg in 2010 than in 2006.

Fruit bore the brunt of the cut, purchases falling by 11.6% between 2007 and 2010, while vegetable sales slipped by less than 3%. But fresh green vegetables also saw significant reductions, with purchases down 4.5% on 2009 and 15% on 2007.

Last week, The Grocer reported that the UK was near the bottom of the pile in a comparative survey of fruit and veg consumption across the European Union.

Nigel Jenney of the Fresh Produce Consortium said it was disappointing to see further confirmation that the UK was not meeting minimum recommendations for a healthy diet.

“The FPC is pressing government to support the industry by doing more to promote fresh produce as the ultimate value-for-money convenience food,” he said.

“The latest Change4Life campaign promoting processed foods to help people adopt a healthy diet smacked of desperation from government bureaucrats who refuse again to accept the nutritional benefit of the fresh potato and yet include highly processed products among five-a-day.”

Away from fruit and veg, fish and milk purchases continued to decline significantly, Defra said. Overall fish purchases fell by 8.8% between 2007 and 2010, largely down to a decline in white fish, with purchases down 11% on 2009 and 16% on 2007.

Meanwhile, purchases of whole milk decreased by 16% in 2010 – equivalent to 80ml less per person per week.

“There has been no change in purchases of skimmed milks over the same period, suggesting that consumers are not converting to a lower-fat variety,” Defra said.

Parliament will debate rising food prices and food poverty this afternoon.