The Chart of the Day shows Per capita consumption of fruit in the United States from 2000 to 2012.
The figures are clear: Fruit Consumption in the US is declining steadily. After a brief rise thru 2009, per capita fruit and vegetable consumption has declined 7% over the past 5 years, this has been driven primarily by decreased consumption of vegetables (-7%) and fruit juice (-14%). If fruit juice is excluded from the overall fruit total, however, there is only a 2% decrease in fruit consumption over the past 5 years. Fruit Consumption has seen growth among certain subsets of the population, specifically children of all ages and adults ages 18-44. In addition, store fresh fruit Consumption has grown 4% over the past 5 years. Also, store fresh vegetables, while flat, have grown among PBH’s core target of children (10%) and young adults over the past 5 years.
Overall the fruit and vegetable consumption losses are tied to two big behaviors: a decline in the dinner side dish for vegetables, and reduced consumption of fruit juice at breakfast. Staples such as orange juice, lettuce/salad, corn, and green beans have led the declines. Fewer side dish salads also reduces the use of other salad related vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers. Vegetables have long been affected by shifts occurring at the dinner table. Americans have been looking for convenience at the dinner occasion and one way to make things more convenient is to include fewer side dishes in their dinner meal and to include them less often. They are also using fewer ingredients to prepare meals. This, along with steady growth for convenient options like ready-to-eat or frozen main dishes, has hurt vegetable consumption. I. Executive Summary 6 Produce for Better Health Foundation Children of all ages are consuming more fruit “as is” and with increases at all meal occasions. The decrease in 100% fruit juice consumption could be attributed to any variety of factors, including ongoing interest in consuming low-carbohydrate foods, which peaked a decade ago, and the ever-increasing competitive set of beverages available to consumers that now include flavored water. As one of its key MyPlate messages, USDA also encourages decreased consumption of ‘sugar-sweetened’ beverages, and consumers often unwittingly include 100% juice in this mix. Despite losses, however, fruit and vegetables are still a cornerstone of the American diet. In fact, vegetables are 4 of the top 5 side dishes at the in-home dinner meal and fruit is second only to candy as a snack.
Fruit has enjoyed gains in consumption at breakfast. This is likely because breakfast is a more health related meal and fruit is versatile. For example, berries and bananas have gained favor throughout the day, probably due to their versatility for consumption “as is” and as a topping for cereal or yogurt, or as an ingredient to a smoothie or hot cereal. Fruit also is one of the top two snacks consumed and is growing, especially at the morning snack occasion due in part to American’s greater acceptance of snacking. Shifting Demographics of Fruit and Vegetable Consumers YOUNGER CONSUMERS EATING MORE While almost all age and life stage groups are consuming fewer vegetables (teens and adult males ages 18-34 are an exception) and less fruit juice, some segments are consuming more fruit compared to 2009. Specifically: • Children of all ages are consuming more fruit “as is” and with increases at all meal occasions. Berries, bananas, apples and oranges are driving this increase. • Adults ages 18-44 are eating more fruit at breakfast, particularly berries and bananas. • Working Women households and Traditional Families with stay at home moms have shown sizeable increases in fruit consumption over the past 5 years. • African Americans, Hispanics, and those in the West North Central, Mountain, and Pacific are eating more fruit (see Appendix A for US regions), as well as households with annual incomes of either $20,000-$40,000 or of $60,000 or more. WHILE STILL HIGHEST, OLDER CONSUMERS TRENDING DOWN The overall losses seen in fruit and vegetable consumption have been driven by double digit declines among adults ages 45 and older, and particularly those ages 65 and older, who are the highest fruit and vegetable consumers. In particular: • Losses for fruit among this population have been driven by: decreases in all main meals, particularly dinner and lunch; fewer consuming them “as is”; and fewer including fruit as a dessert. Losses are driven by bananas and a variety of other fruit. • Sizable declines for vegetables (1 fewer eating a week per capita versus just 5 years ago) have been driven by lower side dish “as is” use at in-home dinner meals. Lettuce and salad related vegetables, like tomatoes, have been hit the hardest, as have onions, potatoes, and mixed vegetables. Consumption at lunch has declined as well, though vegetables at breakfast have increased slightly. One possible reason contributing to the losses among older core consumers (ages 50+) is that their dinner meal has changed. American’s are preparing ‘center of plate’ protein meals less often. Instead, consumers are opting for more one dish meals like pizza or sandwiches. This then impacts the use of side dishes, of which vegetables are the largest. This shift, combined with the overall long term trend toward simplifying the dinner meal (fewer sides and desserts), has driven declines for older core consumers. STATE of the PLATE 2015 Study on America’s Consumption of Fruits & Vegetables 7 The Future of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption 4%
Consumption of total fruit and total vegetables are expected to grow roughly 4% respectively in the next 5 years, or roughly the same rate as population growth, resulting in relatively flat per capita consumption. Fruit and vegetables, as a category is expected to show a much stronger benefit from the aging of the population given the higher consumption rates among older consumers and their higher levels of concern about health and greater incidence of medical conditions. Fruit and vegetables should be poised to flourish rather than just keep pace with population growth. If current food preparation and consumption behaviors among consumers ages 50+, are not modified or changed, the full growth potential of fruit and vegetables will likely not be realized during the coming years. This is due to the negative generational (cohort) effect for both fruit and vegetables among older consumers, which means that 50+ year olds today are consuming fruit and vegetables less often than their counterparts ten years ago. Still, there is a positive generational effect for both fruit and vegetables for those under the age of 40, which bodes well for the long term future of fruit and vegetables. This group is consuming more fruit and vegetables than their counterparts a decade ago. Overall, the slight positive aging effect (changing life-stages), is expected to offset the slightly negative trend effect (changing environment), leaving population growth as the main factor influencing the 4% anticipated growth in the next 5 years for fruit and vegetables. 9%
GROWTH FOR FRUIT EXCLUDING JUICE AND 8% GROWTH FOR FRESH VEGETABLES EXPECTED Fruit consumption, excluding juice, is expected to grow by 9% over the next 5 years, and fresh vegetables are expected to grow by 8% overall. When subtracting the 4% anticipated growth due to the expansion of the total population, a 5% per capita growth in fruit (excluding juice) and a 4% per capita growth in fresh vegetables is expected.
The timeline shows the per capita consumption of fruit in the United States from 2000 to 2012. The American per capita consumption of fruit amounted to 253.9 pounds in 2009.
* Based on fresh farm weight. Fruit include fresh fruit, canned fruit, dried fruit, frozen fruit and selected fruit juices.
According to ERS the data are proxies for consumption. Consumption normally represents total supply minus exports, nonfood use, and ending stocks.