Fruit and vegetables consumption in Italy, France and Germany

According to an analysis conducted as part of the Fruitylife - “Fruit and Vegetables, healthy and safe” project, sales of fruit and vegetables follow different trends in Italy, France and Germany, while consumers in all three countries are paying increasing attention to organic fruit and vegetables.

Italy, France and Germany are the countries where the Fruitylife project, co-financed by the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy, and coordinated by Alimos-Alimenta la Salute, has been running with the goal of promoting the use of fruit and vegetables by raising awareness of cultivation methods and control systems used to guarantee maximum quality from the farm to the table.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

Italy - The crisis has had a stronger impact on sales in Italy than elsewhere in Europe. This was also confirmed by the results of the 2013 Coop Sales and Distribution Report which showed that as many as 81% of Italians stated that they had changed their purchasing habits, against 35% in Germany and 64% in France (the European average was of 63%).

For Italy, the latest figures from the Macfrut Fruit and Vegetable Sales Observatory relating to the June 2012 - July 2013 period, showed a fall in sales of fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, with spending down to 13.9 billion Euro. If we analyse the individual product categories, we can see that sales of fresh fruit fell by 3.1% and by 2% for fresh vegetables, while sales of frozen goods rose slightly by 0.7%.

Nonetheless, figures from Agrinsieme (which provides aggregated data from the CIA, Confagricultura and Alleanza Cooperative Italiane) show that Italians still consume an average of 219g of fruit per day, per capita and 228g per capita of vegetables every day, over the total 400g recommended by the WHO for a healthy diet.

France - In France, data published by the 2013 Kantar Worldpanel, with figures from 2012, show a recovery of sales in fruit and vegetables: +6.1% in spending on fruit and vegetables in comparison to 2011 and +3.2% in sales volume. Spending on fruit and vegetables in 2012, excluding potatoes, was around 15.5 billion Euro. In particular, spending on purchases of fruit increased by 7% while sales volume grew by 5.1%. For vegetables, 2012 saw a 5.1% rise in spending, mainly due to a 3.8% increase in average prices, while the figure for sales volumes rose by 1.3%.

Germany - According to the latest figures processed by the ICE office in Berlin using data from Fruchthandel, in August, when the country usually sees a fall in sales of fruit, Germany recorded a 2% rise in sales of fresh fruit, despite a 7% rise in prices.

What are the most popular types of fruit and vegetables?
In Italy, CSO-GFK figures emphasise how tastes and sales have changed from 2002 to 2012: sales of apples, pears and oranges fell by 15%, along with -18% for grapes and -30% for mandarins, while sales of nectarines rose by 11%, clementines by 15% and kiwis by 36%. For vegetables, sales of carrots (-10%), potatoes (-14%) and tomatoes (-19%) all fell, while sales of salad and chicory (+12%), asparagus (+13%) and cucumbers (+31%) all rose.

In France, on the other hand, FranceAgrimer figures show that apples are the most popular type of fruit (both fresh and processed), followed by pears and oranges. For vegetables, tomatoes were the most popular, although sales were half those in Italy (32 kg per person, against 70 kg each year per capita in Italy).

In Germany, where in 2012 each citizen consumed an average of 105 kg of fresh and processed fruit for a total of 8,668,000 tonnes, apples remained a firm favourite with 25.9 kg per capita each year. The most popular vegetables in Germany (according to data from the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food) were tomatoes, with per capita annual consumption rates of 20.6 kg, including both fresh and processed types.

The growth of the organic sector
Although data on fruit and vegetable sales showed different trends in the various countries, all saw a marked increase in sales in the organic sector.

Italy - For Italy, the latest survey of families by ISMEA/GFK EURISKO, with reference to organic packaged products sold at large-scale organised distribution points, showed an 8.8% increase in sales volumes of organic products, and 8% in the fresh and processed fruit and vegetables sector.

France - In France, the data published by Ctifl in July 2013, with reference to 2012 (using data from Agence Bio and Kantar Worldpanel) showed an increase of 6% in the value of spending on organic fruit and vegetables and 5% in the quantity sold. The organic products which recorded the best performances were carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, apples and kiwis.

Germany - According to Organic Monitor (2011 figures), German consumers spent as much as 6.6 billion euros on organic food products, and 27% of this turnover was from fruit and vegetables.

"The generalised growth in sales of organic fruit and vegetables indicates how consumers are increasingly demanding food products that are healthy, safe and eco-friendly, and in this respect EU law is particularly scrupulous and attentive, boasting rigorous regulations. What Fruitylife aims to communicate is that the entire European fruit and vegetable production chain is safe, not just the part obtained using Organic Production methods, which represents the top end", commented Dr Massimo Brusaporci, Project Manager and Director of Alimos.

He continued: “just think of the process currently underway to harmonise Integrated Production methods, a system which in contrast to the past, allows chemical synthesis substances to be used, but only in the case of genuine and extreme necessity and only for a certain period of time, to ensure that the products harvested have residues that are lower than those permitted by law". "Another strong guarantee in terms of food safety", concluded Dr Brusaporci, "is the controls carried out in all phases of the fruit and vegetable production chain in Europe, thanks to one of the most rigorous and severe traceability systems, which makes it easy to trace the entire history (period of harvest, treatments, etc.) and producer of each product package".

To meet consumers' need for information, the website provides information on the European fruit and vegetable production chain, on guarantees in terms of safety and quality, and in-depth guides to seasonal produce, a healthy diet and how to use these goods in fast and tasty recipes.

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