Gaps between fruit and vegetable production, demand and recommended consumption at global and national levels
This article (PDF) in The Lancet Planeraty Health explores the role of insufficient production of fruits and vegetables and the effects of food waste and public policy in achieving recommended fruit and vegetable consumption. Historically, fruit and vegetable availability has consistently been insufficient to supply recommended consumption levels. By 2015, 81 countries representing 55% of the global population had average fruit and vegetable availability above WHO’s minimum target. Although economic growth will help to increase fruit and vegetable availability in the future, particularly in lower-income countries, this alone will be insufficient. Even under the most optimistic socioeconomic scenarios (excluding food waste), many countries fail to achieve sufficient fruit and vegetable availability to meet even the minimum recommended target. Sub-Saharan Africa is a particular region of concern. Food waste is a serious obstacle that could erode projected gains. Assuming 33% waste and socioeconomic trends similar to historical patterns, the global average availability in 2050 falls below age-specific recommendations. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is an important component of a shift towards healthier and more sustainable diets. Economic modelling suggests that even under optimistic socioeconomic scenarios future supply will be insufficient to achieve recommended levels in many countries. Consequently, systematic public policy targeting the constraints to producing and consuming fruits and vegetables will be needed. This will require a portfolio of interventions and investments that focus on increasing fruit and vegetable production, developing technologies and practices to reduce waste without increasing the consumer cost, and increasing existing efforts to educate consumers on healthy diets.