Northern Ireland Organisations Back Healthier Diets

Five Northern Ireland organisations are the first to pledge their commitment to the UK wide Peas Please initiative, which aims to make vegetables more appealing, accessible and affordable for everyone. They will be among 100 major organisations in the UK which are pledging support for the important project.

UK research shows that 95 percent of teenagers currently don’t eat enough veg. In response, Ulster University Business School became the 100th pledger making it their commitment to promote to their students, through their teaching and research, the important role vegetables can play in improving diets, the environment and the economy.

The Northern Ireland pledgers are Mash Direct in Comber, a specialist in vegetable sides and convenience meals, Henderson Group in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland’s biggest food wholesaler, Ulster Farmers’ Union, The Horticulture Forum, and University of Ulster Business School.

Since Peas Please was launched three years ago it has delivered 162 million additional portions of vegetables the food system working across all UK regions.

Eighty percent of UK grocery retailers have now committedto major initiatives to help drive up vegetable consumption. Supporters also include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Lidl and Co-op.

Peas Please says “the ambitious targets for veg sales and procurement are vital to increase vegetable consumption”. This is a main focus of the work of the Food Foundation and partners Food Sense Wales, Nourish Scotland and Food NI in the lead up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September and COP26 in November. 

The success shows a real commitment from retailers and food businesses to move towards clear and transparent reporting on vegetable sales which is seen as a vital part of transforming the food system to be more sustainable and provide healthy food for everyone.

 Michele Shirlow, Food NI Chief Executive, says: “We are delighted to be supporting the immensely important Peas Please project because of its strategic focus on improving the health and wellbeing of people here and especially children and young people through the greater consumption of vegetables”.

“We hope that the leadership being provided by Northern Ireland pledgers including Mash Direct, Henderson Group and Ulster University will inspire many more companies and organisations to back the project designed to improve health across Northern Ireland, and the UK”.

“The project is hoping to support efforts to counter dietary problems and conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiac conditions and to ensure people here and in the future have easy access to a healthier, affordable and sustainable diet.” 

“It is great to see 100 major food businesses commit to increasing veg consumption to support better health for millions of people.  Transparent and regular reporting against targets is vital if we are to turn the tide on our current dietary crisis and see future generations face a better and healthier future with everyone having access to an affordable and sustainable diet,” adds Mrs Shirlow.