The NFF Horticulture Council has echoed concerns raised by the Australian Greens with the results of their recent consumer survey revealing more than half (56%) of all Australians are buying less fruits and vegetables as a result of higher prices.
Council Chair Jolyon Burnett said the survey results point towards the wider impacts of higher prices for fresh food, including on public health.
“As a nation we already struggle to meet our daily recommended intake of at least two serves of fresh fruits, five serves of vegetables and 30 grams of nuts,” said My Burnett.
“Latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show just over 6% are consuming enough vegetables and almost twice the proportion of adults reported that they do not usually eat fruit daily in 2022 when compared to over a decade ago.
“Consumer perceptions of high prices are unfortunately feeding into this issue with direct consequences for the wellbeing of individuals and the future of our health system.
“Studies show our unhealthy diets, against other causes, account for the greatest number of preventable deaths each year in Australia at 27,500, greater than tobacco by more than 10,000 deaths annually.
“Without an intervention, the burden of lifestyle disease on our health system is only going to grow.
“When it comes to considering how it might make domestic markets for fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts work better, there are other factors the government might consider in addition to ensuring they are more efficient, transparent and fair.
“For now, we are calling on the Federal Government to make a significant investment in a public health campaign targeted at arresting and turning around the downward trends in fresh fruit, vegetable and nut consumption in this country.
“Given the downstream returns for the health system, we can hardly think of a better investment.”