A PRO-vegetables group is calling on both sides of politics to invest $100 million in growing vegetable consumption.
The FVC has the backing of more than 250 supporting organisations to bolster its presence. Both Ausveg and Nutrition Australia have submitted parallel papers to Commonwealth Treasury calling for the investment.
Nutrition Australia Vic chief executive officer and FVC co-chair Lucinda Hancock the cross-industry collaboration between the health and agriculture sectors will improve not only health outcomes but also help build resilient regional communities and deliver economic benefits that far outweigh the cost of investment.
"If Australians ate an extra cup of vegetables every day we would wipe off more than $200 million per year from our ballooning health budgets," Ms Hancock said.
"Increasing vegetable consumption will help lower rates of chronic diseases including certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases and help us to halt the alarming rise in obesity.
"With appropriate levels investment and cross-industry commitment to work together we can turn low vegetable consumption around.
"But we have to act soon. Australians are already eating 13 kilograms per year less vegetables per capita than they did in 2001."
Ausveg CEO and FVC co-chair Michael Coote said increasing vegetable consumption will also generate as much as $1 billion economic value after 11 years to Australian taxpayers and governments at all levels.
"Not only that, but every new job created in the Australian food industry supports an additional job in the regional economy. More people eating more veggies is good for the economy and our future," he said.
According to the FVC, a national behaviour change program would have multiple flow-on benefits including:
- an additional one serve of vegetables per day;
- In excess of a $200 million reduction in health expenditure per annum (across state and federal governments);
- Significant contribution to lower rates of chronic diseases including certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases and contribution to halting the rise in obesity;
- 14 per cent reduction in disease burden if Australians who are overweight or obese maintained a 3kg weight loss;
- In excess of a $1.3 billion increase in vegetable sales volume to Australian growers and food supply chain operators;
- In excess of a $1.6 billion net economic benefit in farm income for vegetable growers;
- A $10 return on investment for every $1 invested in a behaviour change program to increase vegetable consumption across all sectors of the community;
- an additional job in the regional economy for every new job created in the Australian food industry.
The latest calls for government investment are supported by a business case and evidence base developed by the FVC members over the past three years.
The group has plans to continue their engagement with influential policy-makers across multiple departments and all political parties leading up to the 2022 federal election.
Sign up here to Good Fruit and Vegetables weekly newsletter for all the latest horticulture news each Thursday...