Carrots Australia’s most popular vegetable purchase
Carrots were the most commonly purchased vegetable in August 2013, with 94 per cent of consumers buying the vegetable last month, according to the results of a new survey of over 800 consumers conducted on behalf of the vegetable industry.
But other statistics reveal that potatoes remain the main vegetable crop in Australia, despite the apparent purchasing preferences for other vegetables. The popularity of carrots as a purchase in Australia perhaps does not take into account the reliance of fast food operators on potatoes for products such as French fries and other hot chips.
The monthly survey of consumers, which will run over three years, was commissioned by horticulture representative body AusVeg and undertaken by market research organisation Colmar Brunton.
The next most popular vegetables in August 2013 were tomatoes (92 per cent), potatoes (83 per cent), broccoli (80 per cent), cauliflower (79 per cent, celery (78 per cent), capsicums (76 per cent), white onion (76 per cent), cabbage (74 per cent) and zucchini (74 per cent).
“This consumer research provides valuable insights to the Australian vegetable industry that will assist growers in understanding consumer’s preferences over a three-year period,” said Andrew White, AusVeg Manager of Industry Development and Communications.
“Insights include not only which vegetables are being purchased the most, but also what the triggers and barriers to purchase are and how these might be overcome in order to see growth in purchasing,” Mr White said.
AusVeg said the survey showed that the health benefits associated with carrot consumption were a major trigger to purchase among consumers, with 67 per cent purchasing the vegetable because ‘they are healthy’. Easy preparation was another reason to buy, with 60 per cent saying this was a trigger to purchase.
According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), carrot production in Australia has risen from 264 kilotonnes in 2008-09 to a projected figure of 322 kilotonnes in 2013-14. Carrots are also Australia’s biggest vegetable export.
Habit plays a role in vegetable purchase
The survey found that fresh food choices were habitual, with 59 per cent of respondents stating that their fresh vegetable purchases were based on routine shopping habits.
“There exists an opportunity for the vegetable industry to assist consumers in expanding their repertoire,” Mr White said. “Vegetables are a healthy and versatile ingredient easily incorporated into most recipes. However, in many cases, knowledge of their potential as an ingredient is lacking,” he said.
Australian Food News reported earlier in September 2013 that research from AusVeg had found that two thirds of Australians had added new vegetables to their cooking repertoire in the last five years.
The tracker study has been funded by Horticulture Australia Limited, using the National Vegetable Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.
The potato conundrum
But despite the varying of vegetable preferences for consumers, figures show that potatoes are still the major vegetable crop in Australian.
According to the Potato Industry Annual Report 2011/12, prepared by Horticulture Australia and AusVeg, Australian potato production was around 1.25 million tonnes in total in 2011-12, with approximately 53 per cent processed and 47 per cent attributed to fresh potato sales. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that the 2011-12 potato crop had a value of $625.6 million.
By comparison, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that in 2011-12, 319,185 tonnes of carrots were produced in Australia (value $215 million), 371,514 tonnes of tomatoes (value $351.8 million), and 48,472 tonnes of broccoli ($97.3 million).
The popularity of potatoes in Australia is not a new trend. Data from the ABS shows that historically household expenditure on the humble potato makes up a considerable portion of the average weekly shop. According to ABS figures average weekly household expenditure on the humble potato grew from $0.47 in 1975-76 to $1.26 in 2009-10. By comparison, average weekly expenditure on all other fresh vegetables was $1.40 in 1975-76, and grew to $9.53 in 2009-10.