The 2019-2020 progress report released today from the Peas Please project - which works to make vegetables more appealing, accessible, and affordable – unpacks the ‘Veg Pledges’ made by 25 Veg Cities and 70 contract caterers, high street chains, retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, public food procurers and broadcasters.
  • Peas Please is a multi-stakeholder project that works with businesses, civil society and policy makers across the UK to make it easier for people to access vegetables, by getting organisations to pledge to grow, serve or sell more veg.
  • The third annual Progress Report shows that UK food businesses have served or sold 162 million additional portions of veg over the past three years as part of the Peas Please initiative
  • The report highlights how Covid-19 has caused widespread disruption to food businesses increasing their veg consumption targets.
  • Despite this, the Peas Please initiative still directly contributed to 72.1 million additional portions of veg being sold or served this year.
  • Although the pandemic continues to impact many sectors, there is a real opportunity to rebuild the food economy so that it is more veg focused.
  • Brexit is a further risk for UK vegetable consumption. Despite the UK's reliance on imports of fruit and veg from the EU, the increasing likelihood of a No Deal Brexit will increase prices of fruit and veg, according to new data released by SHEFS.
  • A new briefing paper finds that prices of fruit and veg will increase by an average of 4% as a result of a No Deal scenario, which would mean imports from the EU would be automatically subject to the new higher UK general tariffs.
  • TUCO is a continued supporter of the Peas Please initiative 

The report finds that an impressive 162 million additional portions of veg were either served or sold by these businesses as a direct result of the programme. The numbers in the report do however paint a picture of a food system hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 27% of organisations that are part of the scheme unable to report back this year due to capacity issues (the majority from the Out of Home sector, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by this sector).

Even with Covid-19 causing disruption across the food sector, the Peas Please initiative continued to deliver on its mission, with 72.1 million additional portions of veg being sold or served this year. This demonstrates remarkable progress in the right direction, despite the rate of increase slowing slightly as a result of the pandemic (approximately 13 million fewer additional portions were reported compared to last year.)

Retail grocery sales data provided by Kantar show that the proportion of veg in a consumer’s shopping basket remains low (7%), despite overall grocery sales increasing by 13.7% in the 12 weeks leading up to mid-JuneWere retailers to be in line with the government’s Eatwell Guide, 20% of the shopping basket should be made up of veg. The absence of an uplift in the percentage share of retail shopping baskets that are veg this year, despite the closure of the Out of Home sector, is a concerning indictment of the current situation in the UK. We are simply not selling, serving, or eating enough vegetables.

New analysis from SHEFS finds that a No Deal Brexit would further compound the challenge of increasing veg consumption. 68% of our total supply of fruit and veg in the UK is imported, and a no deal scenario would mean imports from the EU (as well as non-EU countries where trade deals have been negotiated through the EU) would automatically be subject to the new UK ‘most favoured nation’ tariffs.

This could result in the average British family paying an average of 4% more for their fruit and vegetables over the course of a year. Some products could rise by even more: for example, tomatoes would become 9% more expensive. Increased food prices will impact the more deprived groups of society the most.