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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » July 4, 2014
Polska…tastes good!
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Promoting Fruit and Vegetables
July 4, 2014   
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A number of public awareness campaigns are under way to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables and help shape healthy eating habits in Poland.

According to the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics, the average Pole consumes just over 40 kg of fruit and fruit products annually and less than 60 kg of vegetables and vegetable products, not including potatoes. And this means that fruit and vegetable consumption in Poland is falling. In 2002, the figures were 48.8 kg and 64.5 kg respectively.

Among different varieties of fruit, tree fruit is the most popular in Poland, especially apples, with consumption at 15 kg per person a year. But 10 years ago consumption was almost 10 kg more.

When it comes to vegetables, Poles are keenest on tomatoes and cucumbers (9.8 kg and 7.1 kg eaten per person per year respectively). Carrots and cabbage come next, each with 6.3 kg per person, followed by onions, at 5.7 kg per person.

Statistics show that fruit and vegetable consumption in Poland is still insufficient. This applies to both fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. As a result, the Polish diet is not sufficiently rich in vitamins coming from fruit, vegetables and juices. But this may change because awareness of healthy eating habits is growing in Polish society. This is due to factors including various programs and campaigns to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

In order to encourage consumers, especially children and young people, to eat fruit and vegetables and drink fruit and vegetable juices, the government-backed “Five Servings of Vegetables, Fruit or Juice” educational campaign has been in progress for several years. According to experts, five servings provide an optimal dose of vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for the human body to function properly.

The campaign began in September 2011 and will run until the end of September this year. It is financed by the Polish government using European Union funds as well as cash available from the Fund for the Promotion of Fruit and Vegetables administered by Poland’s Agricultural Market Agency.

The campaign is targeted at both adults and children. According to the organizers, the campaign is yielding tangible results and is raising the public’s awareness about good nutrition habits. Surveys point to an increased number of consumers who are aware that they should have at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, the campaign organizers say. Almost 33 percent of mothers surveyed said they are aware that fruit and vegetables should be consumed five times a day, and a similar percentage say that they and their families follow these guidelines. To compare, when the campaign was getting under way in 2008, only about 21 percent of mothers surveyed declared the same. Today in Poland seven in every 10 mothers give their children fruit to school on an everyday basis.

Consequently, the organizers say, the campaign has significantly increased awareness in the target group—mothers and children—about a proper and balanced diet. Another positive outcome is that a large number of people say they have increased regular consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Similar objectives are at the center of the European Commission’s School Fruit Scheme, which has been hugely successful in Poland since it was launched in the 2009/2010 school year. In Poland, the program is targeted at students in grades one to three of elementary school. In the 2013/2014 school year, the program covered nearly 1 million children, or almost 84 percent of the target group. The program is 75-percent financed from the EU budget and 25 percent with funds from the national budget. The total budget of the program this school year is 18.2 million euros.

Children covered by the program are provided with fresh fruit (apples, pears and strawberries) and vegetables (carrots, sweet peppers and radishes) as well as fruit and vegetable juices several times a week.

The “Time for tomato, or how can you not love Polish fruit and vegetables” nationwide socio-educational campaign is another interesting project that promotes healthy eating. This year the organizers want to focus on preventing obesity among children and target their efforts at both children and adults who play a key role in shaping their eating habits.

Another example of efforts to promote the consumption of fruit is the “Extraordinary properties of ordinary fruit” information and promotion campaign being carried out by the Association of Polish Fruit Growers with the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Fruit and Vegetables administered by Poland’s Agricultural Market Agency, and in conjunction with associations bringing together blueberry, currant and strawberry growers. The aim of the campaign is to increase consumption of berries, especially among children and young people, and to shape healthy eating habits and increase exports of berries and berry fruit products. Promotional activities are being carried out simultaneously on five markets: Poland, Austria, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the “Apple a Day” promotional and information campaign is targeted at consumers in Russia and Ukraine. The program, being carried out by the Association of Polish Fruit Growers with the support of the Agricultural Market Agency, seeks to build and strengthen a positive image of European apples in Russia and Ukraine and to increase sales of European apples in these countries.
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