More than 80% of the UK grocery market has come together to boost vegetable consumption in the UK. Major retailers Aldi, Asda, and Waitrose join Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco (who joined the initiative in 2017) in making commitments to help their customers eat more vegetables as part of the Peas Please initiative. These commitments are welcome in view of newly released Euromonitor data which show that the UK ranks 8th worst in Europe for per capita fresh veg consumption.
Peas Please is coordinated by partner organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and aims to bring together business and brands from across the food system to secure commitments to improve the availability, affordability and quality of the veg offered in supermarkets, shops, schools, pubs, fast food outlets and beyond. Peas Please has delivered 4.8 million additional portions of veg in its first year.
The 2018 Vegetable Summit will feature keynote speeches from Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns for World Wildlife Fund and one of the UK’s foremost environmentalists and Professor Alan Dangour, Professor of Food and Nutrition for Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns for WWF, said: “Our planet's web of life is being torn apart, and the main reason is our food. From being the main cause for deforestation to the pollution of rivers with chemicals and soil, how we feed ourselves is the biggest factor behind the loss of wildlife. Livestock products have an especially high impact. An area roughly the size of Africa is now used up in producing meat and dairy products. Farm animals are also a major source of climate changing pollution, and as incomes rise so demand for meat and dairy products is going up too. The good news is that reducing demand for animal products is one of the most powerful ways we have for both feeding the world and saving it."
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Sir John Hegarty will also be present with an update on the Veg Power fund that was announced at last year’s summit with an aim to look at how advertising can play a role in increasing veg consumption.
Following its launch in 2017, Peas Please has secured commitments from 41 pledgers (including Greggs, Birds Eye, Brains Ltd, PwC, the Scottish Government, Castell Howell, Birmingham City Council, Sodexo and Nestle) and helped sell nearly five million (4.8 million) additional portions of veg.
Pledges from the UK supermarkets involve delivering more vegetable products, increasing veg marketing and prioritising in-store positioning of vegetables in order to increase consumption. For every one of your five-a-day eaten, your risk of all-cause mortality decreases by 5%5. Currently 80% of adults and teenagers and 95% of children eat fewer than 3.5 portions a day, but eating more veg could prevent diet-related chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and significantly reduce the financial burden on the NHS.
As part of its pledge to drive up veg consumption, Waitrose has committed to recommending other vegetables each time a customer puts a vegetable in their online basket. Aldi will run 12 dedicated TV campaigns to highlight promotions on fruit and vegetables, and will position vegetable offerings in higher footfall areas of its stores.
Moira Howie, Nutrition Manager Waitrose, said: "We believe there are few things more important than the food we eat. That's why we're committed to encouraging shoppers to incorporate a rainbow of veg into their and their family's diets - through inspiring products, recipes and events."
Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “Our new store layout dedicates more space for fresh produce. As the UK’s best value supermarket our customers know they can purchase quality fresh produce at unbeatable prices at Aldi.
“Working with Peas Please gives us the opportunity to help our customers increase their consumption of fresh vegetables. We will also continue our work on developing recipe ideas to share with and inspire customers.”
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