Tomatoes and apples are the most popular vegetables and fruit
In 2015, the average Belgian purchased more or less the same types of fruit and vegetables as the previous year. Tomatoes remain the most popular vegetable, while apples are the number one fruit. Spending increased more because of higher prices, although less actual volume was purchased.(*)
No changes to the top ten vegetables
The top ten most popular vegetables remain unchanged in 2015. The most frequently purchased vegetables are tomatoes, followed by carrots, onions, chicory and lettuce. Leeks, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes and cauliflower complete the top ten. We see no changes to the ratings, notes VLAM, but all these vegetables are actually losing ground. The number one vegetable, the tomato, fell by 3% in volume terms to 6.14 kg per Belgian. The most severe drop was experienced by leeks (-12%). Our national pride and joy, chicory, holds on to fourth place on 3.15 kg, but loses buyers and volume. Yet higher chicory prices caused spending to increase by 12%. The biggest losers in the greengrocery shelves include Chinese leaves, salsify, watercress, endive, red cabbage and various types of lettuce such as curly leaf, oak leaf and cabbage lettuce.
Mixed salad records the best growth
It is striking to note that parsley, parsnips, beetroot, aubergines and radishes recorded the strongest growth in 2015. Families were also buying more pre-packed mixed salad and rocket. Within the lettuce section, pre-packed mixed salads are gaining ground, and with 30% market share they form the most important segment in value terms.
The biggest losers in the greengrocery shelves included Chinese leaves, salsify, watercress, endive, red cabbage and various types of lettuce such as curly leaf, oak leaf and cabbage lettuce.
Apples top the fruit charts
The favourite in the family fruit bowl is still the apple, with 8.790 kg per capita. This fruit fell by 1% in volume, and because of the lower price, by 5% in spending. However, one positive thing was that the number of people purchasing apples increased slightly. The top ten looks like this: apple, banana, orange, mandarin, pear, melon, grape, kiwi, strawberries, nectarines/peaches. The biggest increases within the top ten were melons (+16%), kiwis (+7%) and grapes (+6%). Watermelon performed particularly well last year. The other big climbers were: blueberries, blackberries, figs and raspberries. The other major declines on the fruit shelves were recorded by currants and pineapples. After a good performance in 2014 - when consumers were urged to support Belgian fruit growers following the Russian trade boycott - pear sales fell back to a normal level.
Jonagold retains its top position
Among the apple varieties, market leader Jonagold (which was much cheaper) held its position with 43% of the volume and 32% of the value. Jonagold's market share is highest among older people. Traditional apples such as Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, as well as relative newcomers such as Belgica and Kanzi were losing ground to Pink Lady in particular. This apple is much more expensive to buy and is directed mainly at dual-income households and well-off families with children.
Berries are more popular than ever
One trend in 2015 was the increase in purchases of small fruit: primarily blueberries, blackberries, figs and raspberries. Supermarket chains and auction sites confirm that berries are more popular than ever. They have become a staple. VLAM explains this spectacular growth within the context of the hype around superfoods: berries make healthy snacks and are easy to incorporate into cooking. 'Tasty, healthy, versatile and refreshing', remain the four powerful arguments in favour of buying berries.
Higher spending, lower volume
Spending on fresh fruit and vegetables rose last year more steeply than average (+5.3%). This broke down into an increase of 6% in fruit and 4.3% in vegetables. The extra expenditure is not because more volume was being bought, but because average shop prices were higher. However, the average Belgian in 2015 did spend a little more on fruit and vegetables: 92 euro on fresh vegetables and 112 euro on fresh fruit, making 204 euro in total.
Domestic consumption of fresh vegetables fell by 2.6%. But fresh fruit was more expensive, but the volume purchased per capita remained stable. Belgian families in 2015 bought an average of 39 kg of fresh vegetables and 47 kg of fresh fruit, making a total of 86 kg.
Cherry tomatoes are becoming more popular
The trend towards more special tomatoes is continuing. The share accounted for by cluster tomatoes is declining, and it is cherry tomatoes that are gaining particular popularity in recent years and being bought more often for home use. They have now captured a 17% share in volume terms, and 34% in value. Cherry tomatoes were two and a half times as expensive as cluster tomatoes last year. Cluster tomatoes were 8% dearer than loose tomatoes and long Roma tomatoes were 12% dearer than cluster tomatoes. In value terms, cherry tomatoes are now the most important segment within the tomato range.
Consumption at home is the norm
The home remains the most important location for consumption of fruit and vegetables, with two thirds of meals being eaten at home. Fruit is eaten slightly more frequently at home and at work or school than vegetables. Of the times when people eat fruit, 69% are at home, 4% with family or friends and 17% at work or school. Strawberries and oranges are eaten relatively more often at home than apples, pears or bananas.
Distribution reports a stable picture
From the distribution point of view, we have seen little change in recent years. 'Dis 1' on 48% remains a firm market leader, followed by hard discount on 24%. Third place is occupied by local supermarkets, with a 14% market share. Public markets remain stable on 5%, and specialist stores drop to 3% market share.
(*) These are the major conclusions drawn by GfK Belgium, which monitors purchases for home consumption among 5,000 Belgian households on behalf of VLAM, the Flemish Agricultural and Fisheries Marketing Board.