In a positive step for the industry, Australia’s leading health professionals and horticulture industry groups have come together to launch the Fruit & Vegetable Consortium.
The Fruit & Vegetable Consortium brings together key organisations to collectively advocate for comprehensive action to address Australia’s complacency about eating fruits and vegetables.
Among other things, the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that Australian’s have a strong and secure access to fresh fruit and vegetables with Australian farmers continuing to provide consumers with fresh produce.
Despite Australians having great access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the Fruit & Vegetable Consortium found that just half of Australian adults, and two thirds of children, have an adequate daily intake of fruit.
This is one of the main reasons the Fruit & Vegetable Consortium was formed with the group working together to research ways to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in Australia.
The Consortium is Chaired by Nutrition Australia CEO Lucinda Hancock with other founding members including AUSVEG, The Cancer Council of Victoria, Heart Foundation, the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Melbourne Market, Nutrition Australia, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, the Good Foundation, the Produce Marketing Association of Australia/New Zealand and VicHealth.
Ms Hancock said that while increasing fruit and vegetable consumption was critical to improving the nutrition and health of Australians, it also provide a sure way to reduce government expenditure.
“Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to protect against high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers,” Ms Hancock said.
“The job of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is too much for a single person or organisation.
“This Consortium was born out of a common imperative to increase fruit and vegetable consumption with the aim of improving health outcomes for Australians and their families.”
Chief Executive Officer of AUSVEG, the peak industry body for Australian vegetable growers, James Whiteside said growers were committed to increasing vegetable consumption among Australians of all ages and was looking forward to working alongside the food and health industries.
“The health benefits of increasing vegetable consumption are well-documented, but the rates of consumption are still unacceptably low. We need to work together to pool our research, knowledge and passion to remedy this,” Mr Whiteside said.
“If every Australian ate an additional half a cup of vegetables per day, government health expenditure would reduce by an estimated $100 million per year ($60.7 million to the Commonwealth Government and $39.2 million to states and territories).”
Since launching to industry four weeks ago, the Consortium has already outlined its vision for its first major project which involves developing a business case and prospectus for potential funders to outline the investment needed for a comprehensive behavioural change campaign for increasing vegetable consumption.