Updates about the Horticulture Wales project, along with industry news and opinion.

Market Analysis: Food Statistics Pocketbook 2014

10 October 2014

Fruit and vegetable consumption is falling, food prices are rising, the UK is becoming less self-sufficient, and the average household throws out £470 worth of food a year that is good enough to eat – just a few of the highlights from the latest annual snapshot of the country’s agri-food sector…

Food Stats Pocketbook 2014 (180px * 164px)DEFRA and the Office for National Statistics have published the latest Food Statistics Pocketbook, a handy round-up covering the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the food people in the UK eat. It is based on previously published government surveys and statistics, and incorporates separate chapters on subjects such as food prices and expenditure, food waste, dietary health, exports, and food safety.

Let’s take a look at some of the foodie facts included in this year’s pocketbook…

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption


  • Fruit and vegetable consumption continues to fall – UK household purchases of fruit and vegetables were 2.1% lower in 2012 than they were in 2011, which is a fall of 11% since they hit a peak in 2006.
  • Fruit and vegetable purchases are strongly linked to income – the bottom 10% of households based on income buy the least fruit and vegetables (an average of just 2.9 portions per person per day), compared to an average of 4.8 portions a day for the highest earners.
  • Just 24% of men, 29% of women, and 18% of children consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, while 6.6% of adults and 4.7% of children have no fruit or vegetables at all in their diet. Those aged 55 to 75 eat the most fruit and vegetables.

Food Prices


  • Food prices have risen 18% in real terms since 2007, taking the UK back to the levels recorded in the late 1990s.
  • Overall spending on food shopping has increased 30% since 2007, and while people on lower incomes tend to buy different food items to those on average or high incomes, prices for these different shopping baskets have risen at a similar rate.
  • The average UK household spends approximately 11.6% of its disposable income on food, although this proportion increases to 16.6% for those on the lowest incomes. Since the start of the recession in 2007, and with food prices continuing to increase, the lowest income households buy 16% less fruit and 6% less vegetables.
  • Since 2007, prices for all food groups have risen, with increases ranging from 22-57%. The price of fruit has gone up 34%, while vegetables and potatoes have increased by 25%.



  • In 2013, the UK was just 60% self-sufficient for all food and 73% for indigenous type food, compared to 62% and 77% respectively during the previous year.
  • Twenty-four countries together account for 90% of the UK’s food supply, with 53% supplied domestically from within the UK. The leading overseas suppliers are the Netherlands (5.8%), Spain (5.3%), France (3.5%), Germany (3.3%) and Irish Republic (3%).
  • Similarly, 24 countries also account for 90% of the country’s fruit and vegetable supplies, although only 22% is sourced domestically in the UK.



  • The total value of UK food and drink exports rose slightly in 2013 to £18.9 billion, £6 billion more than in 2005 (measured in 2013 prices). However, the trade deficit for food and drink widened slightly in 2013 to £21.3 billion, £3.7 billion higher than it was in 2005.
  • Apart from ‘beverages’, which has a trade surplus largely due to exports of Scotch whisky, all other categories of food and drink have a trade deficit, with fruit and vegetables actually recording the largest shortfall of all (£8 billion), although it should be noted that fruit and veg exports have increased 9.3% over past year.

Food Waste and Recycling


  • More than a fifth (22%) of fruit and vegetables are wasted.
  • The UK wastes around 15 million tonnes of food and drink a year, with households generating seven million tonnes of this.
  • Around 4.2 million tonnes of the food waste thrown out by households is actually fit to eat – of this, fresh vegetables and salad accounts for nearly a fifth (19%) of the total.
  • The average UK home throws out £470 worth of food a year that could be eaten.

Food Security


  • Only 5% of people in the UK are concerned about the safety of home-grown fruit and vegetables.
  • Nearly half of people in the UK (46%) are concerned about food security and self-sufficiency (52% are not concerned). This places the country approximately halfway up the EU ‘league table’ – people in Greece (94%) and Portugal (85%) are the most concerned while Netherlands (11%), Denmark (11%), Sweden (13%), Germany (14%) are the least worried.
  • Across the EU, 76% of people expressed concern that sufficient food is produced to meet the needs of the world’s population, while 43% had some degree of concern that sufficient food is produced to meet the needs of their country.

And Finally…


  • Total consumer expenditure on food and drink has risen (despite the economic downturn) to £196 billion, an increase of 4% on the previous year. Around £112 billion of this is accounted for by household expenditure, with the remaining £84 billion spent in the catering and hospitality sectors.
  • There are approximately 300,000 food manufacturing or processing SMEs in UK that use fruit or vegetables.
  • Internet food shopping accounts for 4.4% of all sales of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Sales of “ethical” food and drink (including organic, fair-trade, free range and freedom foods) rose to £7.7 billion during 2012, accounting for 8.5% of all household food sales. Despite the economic downturn, sales of ethical produce have increased year-on-year since 2007, although it is interesting to note that sales of organic food and drink have fallen by a third since their peak in 2008.

Click here to read the full DEFRA Food Statistics Pocketbook 2014

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