Food NI Backs Campaign To Increase Consumption Of Vegetables

Food NI and Belfast Food Network are working with the Peas Please initiative to raise the level of vegetable consumption in Northern Ireland currently the lowest across the UK.

The campaign follows research by Peas Please which found that people in Northern Ireland eat an average of two vegetable portions a day (less than any other UK countries), and 20 percent of the Northern Ireland population eats less than one portion a day, compared with 11.8 percent in England, 13.8 percent in Scotland and 15.9 percent in Wales. The Eatwell Guide recommends adults eat at least five
portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

On average in Northern Ireland, 140kg of veg is consumed per person each day, but that rises to 160kg in Scotland, 167kg in Wales and 178kg in England.

The Peas Please initiative, which is working to drive up consumption in the UK, launched its Northern Ireland chapter in the Food NI Pavilion at Balmoral Show. Food NI and Belfast Food Network are lead partners in Northern Ireland.

Peas Please is coordinated by partner organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and aims to bring together business and brands from across the food system to secure commitments to improve the availability, affordability and quality of the veg offered in supermarkets, shops, schools, pubs, fast food outlets and beyond. Peas Please has delivered 4.8 million additional portions of veg in its
first year, as detailed in 2018’s Progress Report.

For every one of your five-a-day eaten, your risk of mortality decreases by five percent. Eating more veg could prevent diet-related illnesses like heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, and significantly reduce the subsequent financial burden on the NHS.

Peas Please is part of the ITV and Veg Power #EatThemToDefeatThem campaign which will also showcased its work at the Balmoral Show in the Healthy Horticulture tent. Amanda Grant’s Cook School ran cooking demonstrations and teaching kids to prepare simple, vegetable-based dishes, and other vegetable-centred activities will help to highlight the veg appeal for children at the show.

Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “There’s huge potential for Northern Ireland to be a veg consumption trailblazer – its considerable vegetable production makes it an exciting place to work on the much-needed challenge of driving up veg intake. Peas Please shows that it is possible to make it easier for everyone to eat more veg, and the new Northern Ireland pledgers are taking the first step in showing concerted leadership from progressive businesses. Now the pressure is on to change pledges into portions and ensure genuine impact on the nation’s health.”

Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive Food NI, said: “We are delighted to continue our work with Veg Power and Food Foundation in highlighting the tremendous health benefits, especially for children and young people, of a diet rich in seasonal vegetables during Balmoral Show.

“Veg Power is being supported proactively by several Food NI member companies especially Mash Direct which was among the first here to please support for Veg Power’s Peas Please initiative. Veg Power will have an opportunity to win further pledges from producers and other organisations here.”

“This participation, in addition, will help to showcase to the public just how easy it is to find quality vegetables in season from local companies in particular, many of which will be showing fresh produce in our Food Pavilion.”

Mash Direct and Ulster Farmers’ Union have also pledged support for the campaign.