Prioritising short-term gratification over long-term gain could be the key to getting Australians to eat more vegetables, with researchers suggesting that simply emphasising the long-term health benefits of eating fresh produce is not enough to win consumers’ hearts.
Professor Hans Van Trijp, of Wageningen University, has claimed that appeals to consumers’ motivations to eat healthily must complement, not replace, appeals to traditional priorities such as taste, convenience and price.
The claims, made at a consumer science conference in Sydney, support Horticulture Innovation Australia commissioned Project Harvest research that found Australian consumers recognise that vegetables are the healthiest food but, on average, eat fewer than half the recommended amount of daily serves.
“We know that consumers rate vegetables as the healthiest food group over fruits and nuts, but it’s clear that their understanding of the health benefits of veggies isn’t translating into increased consumption,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.
“According to Professor Van Trijp, the key may be to combine appeals to health with more fundamental motivations to ensure consumers understand the short-term benefits of eating vegetables.”
“Previous research has found that consumers respond well to fresh vegetable product formats that emphasise convenience, as these formats combine quick and easy meals with nutritious, fresh produce.”
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing more than 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
The Project Harvest study, which tracks consumer attitudes about vegetable purchases, has identified an increasing interest in convenient vegetable products. This is particularly true among shoppers aged 18-35, who are three times more likely than the average Australian to buy pre-prepared vegetables, such as those that have already been chopped or washed.
“Other options suggested by Professor Van Trijp’s research include highlighting the taste offered by particular vegetables,” said Mr Lindhe.
“Industry members could also promote the immediate benefits of eating particular vegetables – for example, broccoli is a good source of Vitamin C, which can make it great for fighting off colds as we approach the winter season.”