The group said that these figures are 'particularly worrying', given that they fall below the minimum 400-gram recommendation by the WHO, while they are also driven by low levels of consumption by millennials and the youngest generations.
The cost-of-living crisis, coupled with growing protectionism, is impacting consumer purchasing power which in turn is limiting expenditure on fruit and vegetables, Freshfel said.
“Consumers have a basic misperception about fruit and vegetable prices on the shelf in supermarkets," commented Philippe Binard, delegate general at Freshfel.
"Fruit and vegetables are the most affordable products and have also undisputed health and environmental assets. The price and value of fresh produce are both very attractive in the food assortment."
Binard added that compared to other food categories, prices in the fruit and vegetable sector have risen by less than in other categories, and lower than the average inflation rate.
"A diet with 5 portions a day or half of the plate with fruit and vegetables can be achieved by €1 or €2 per person per day," he noted.
'More Effective Promotional Strategy'
Freshfel has called for a more effective promotional strategy targeting younger consumers, as well as efforts to convert the awareness of the health benefits of fresh produce into concrete eating behaviours.
In addition, better communication with consumers on expectations regarding societal concerns, price and image misperception are also important, it noted, while at the same time providing attractive taste, diversity and convenience in the sector.
The most consumed fruits in Europe are apples, bananas, oranges, tables grapes and peaches/nectarines. The most dynamic segment, meanwhile, is blueberries, which has seen impressive growth in Germany and Poland.
In terms of vegetables, the most consumed are tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers and sweet peppers.