Research From the International Food Information Council Reveals What's Keeping Consumers From Eating Fruits and Vegetables; Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak and Tamika Sims Comment



Research From the International Food Information Council Reveals What's Keeping Consumers From Eating Fruits and Vegetables; Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak and Tamika Sims Comment


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WASHINGTON, DC - The latest research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) dives into the shopping habits impacting the produce department today, uncovering multiple significant barriers to produce consumption.

Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Food Information Council

“Spring is the time when people are planning gardens and planting seeds; it is also typically a time when lists of which fruits and veggies are safer for you to eat start to circulate on newsfeeds,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, IFIC President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “Our consumer research shows Americans consider how their food was grown when making food decisions, yet at the same time, Americans have never been more removed from the farm. It is our mission to help bridge that gap with consumer insights and science communications.”

According to a recent release from IFIC, keeping food safe (70 percent) and the use of pesticides (60 percent) are top concerns when considering how food is grown; nutritional content, use of agricultural technology, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and farm workers welfare were other listed concerns consumers factor into their purchase decisions.

The latest research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) dives into the shopping habits impacting the produce department today

In addition, 47 percent of Americans believe “organic agriculture does not use pesticides to grow food,” even though both organic and conventional produce are grown with the use of pesticides.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans concerned with pesticide use believe consuming foods grown with pesticides is bad for their health, while 36 percent believe that pesticides used today are “more toxic than they have ever been,” and 35 percent believe pesticides are bad for the environment.

When it comes to the Americans who are not concerned about pesticide use, 35 percent cited they rinse their fresh produce, and 29 percent “trust farmers to use pesticides responsibly.”

Tamika Sims, PhD, IFIC Senior Director of Agriculture Technology Communications, International Food Information Council

“The pesticide residue found on both conventional and organic produce has time and time again been found to be present in minute amounts. Multiple government agencies confirm that these low residue levels do not pose a health or safety risk, yet consumers are still clearly concerned,” explained Tamika Sims, PhD, IFIC Senior Director of Agriculture Technology Communications. “I would simply recommend that consumers wash their fresh produce with cold water prior to consuming, to remove any remaining residues.”

These concerns impact overall produce dollars, as the study revealed that when a consumer is concerned about pesticide use, the majority simply avoid purchasing or consuming vegetables (71 percent) and fruits (59 percent) altogether.

“Low intake of fruits and vegetables by Americans is not a new phenomenon—it's been chronically low for decades,” explained Reinhardt Kapsak. “This research highlights gaps in not only consumer understanding of pesticides but also how harmful misinformation can further widen the fruit and vegetable consumption gap in the U.S. and around the world. Our aim is always to empower consumers with evidence-based, truthful information. We must reassure Americans that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables—in all forms and from all production methods—is safe, nutritious, and important for their health and well-being.”

To read the full survey, click here.

How can we harness consumer education and high food safety standards to continue increasing fresh produce consumption? ANUK will continue to explore.