Prioritising short-term gratification over long-term gain could be the key to getting Australians to eat more vegetables, with research suggesting that emphasising the long-term health benefits of eating fresh produce is not enough to entice consumers.
Professor Hans Van Trijp of Wageningen University in the Netherlands has claimed that appeals to consumers’ motivations to eat healthily must complement, not replace, appeals to traditional priorities such as taste, convenience and price.
Research from Ipsos has shown that Australians are focusing heavily on their health in 2016, with most consumers surveyed considering eating more fresh produce as the top priority for improving their eating habits over the next year.
The research into consumers’ food priorities for 2016 found that 40 per cent of respondents ranked eating more fresh fruit and vegetables as their highest dietary concern, beating out other healthy-eating options such as reducing sugar intake.
“Fresh vegetables provide a range of nutritional benefits and are a vital part of a well-balanced diet, so it’s great to see Australian consumers recognising that eating more vegetables is the first step towards achieving a healthier lifestyle,” AUSVEG spokesperson Dimi Kyriakou said.
“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,” AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe said.
“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.”
Mr Lindhe emphasised that consumers were looking for convenience in their vegetables, and this was particularly the case among those aged 18 to 35, who were three times more likely to buy pre-prepared vegetables than the average consumer in Australia.
He cited research that was part of the broader Horticulture Innovation Australia-commissioned ‘Project Harvest’ study into attitudes towards vegetable purchases.
“When young Australians buy food, they try to strike a balance between wanting fresh, high-quality produce and wanting convenient options which can cut down on meal-preparation time,” Mr Lindhe said. “While frozen produce is still a popular option among Millennials, many young consumers feel as though they’re compromising on taste and quality if they buy frozen vegetables, leading to the relatively strong preference for fresh, pre-prepared options.”