fruit & veg

Major food retailers and producers have committed to a series of pledges designed to encourage consumers to eat an extra portion of vegetables per day.

Companies including Lidl, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Greggs, Mars Food, Nestlé, Sodexo and Simply Fresh, plus a host of local authorities and public sector organisations, made the commitments today (24 October) at the industry-wide Veg Summit in London, organised by the Peas Please campaign.

The pledges include a commitment by Sainsbury’s to increase the amount of products on sale containing a ‘one of your five-a-day’ message by at least 30. It has also included the ‘five-a-day’ promise in NPD briefs for soups, sandwiches, salads and ready meals, and pledged to improve the visibility of fruit & veg on its website, and position veg in higher footfall areas in store.

Tesco has pledged to ensure its meal deals always include at least two vegetable side options, while the Co-op said it would include a weekly feature of vegetables on its social media channels and advertise at least one seasonal vegetable in its magazine, online and on social media every month.

Lidl has committed to include one portion of veg (80g) in every ready meal or an equivalent serving suggestion on pack; to include two portions of veg in all its online recipes and to promote veg in store, online and on printed promotional materials.

Meanwhile, Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s manufacturer Mars promised to update on-pack and online recipe suggestions to encourage the addition of more veg to meals. Nestlé submitted a pledge to update packaging on its products to include at least two portions of vegetables by the end of 2018. Greggs added that 100% of its soup and leaf-based salad meals would provide at least one portion of veg, and committed to selling an additional 15 million portions of vegetables by 2020.

The commitments follow the publication of research by the Food Foundation think tank in July, which showed that veg accounted for just 7.2% of the average shopper’s trolley, despite government guidelines that 20% of a healthy diet should be made up of vegetables.

“Our consumption of veg remains stubbornly low, with dangerous consequences,” said Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor.

“Our environments conspire against us - sugary fatty foods are piled high and sold cheap, while some places can be fruit & veg deserts. The pledges made today have the potential to add up to millions of extra portions of veg on our plates every year.”

Peas Please is a collaboration between the Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland, WWF and Food Cardiff, which aims to increase the UK’s vegetable consumption by bringing all involved in the industry together to ensure fair pricing and sustainability.

Veg pledges: see who has signed up