Shoppers overestimate vegetable imports

Fresh Organic Vegetables On Top Of Wooden TableAustralian shoppers massively overestimate the proportion of imported fresh vegetables on supermarket shelves, said new consumer research.

More than 40 per cent of Australians believe at least one-third of fresh vegetables at their local store are imported, according to the Project Harvest consumer research study, commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia. In fact, fresh vegetable imports account for only a little more than two per cent, 16 times more than the perceived percentage.

“The Australian vegetable industry had a gross value of production of $3.3 billion in 2014-2015, while the total value of all fresh vegetables imported into Australia over the same period was $78 million – only 2.3 per cent of Australia’s value of production of vegetables for human consumption,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.

“These findings show that there is a significant gap between Australians’ perceptions of fresh vegetable imports and the reality of Australia’s fresh vegetable market.

“While local growers are facing heavy competition from cheap imports, right now these imports are mostly processed vegetable products or vegetables imported for processing. The vast majority of fresh vegetables available in stores comes from hard-working Australian growers.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

The Project Harvest study has also found that this misperception is even more prevalent among younger consumers, with shoppers aged 18-35 more likely to overestimate the availability of imported produce than the average consumer.

“Interestingly, more than half of this younger demographic of shoppers think that the majority of fresh vegetables sold in supermarkets are imported,” said Lindhe.

“Previous research has found that Australians prefer to buy Australian-grown produce because they want to support Australian growers. This is as simple as checking the label on the packet or looking for the country of origin information that all supermarkets are required to show next to unpackaged fresh vegetables.

“Consumers may be surprised at how easy it is to buy fresh Australian vegetables and support local growers.”

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