Whenever we read articles about the benefits of fruit and veggies for our health, we automatically nod in approval. Ironically, the moment eye contact is lost with those words of wisdom, our hand reaches for a potato chip or a sugar-loaded drink to wash them all down.
But how many people does ‘we’ imply exactly? To answer that, we’ve gathered the most prominent stats available. Let’s dig in and see how many people eat sufficient amounts of nutritious produce.
Top 10 Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Statistics
- In 2021, the global consumption volume of veggies was 504.01M metric tons.
- Annually, 1% of DALYs and 2.8% of deaths are linked to insufficient produce intake.
- China has the highest daily vegetable intake per capita in the world — 2.27 lbs.
- China also accounts for a quarter of the global fruit consumption.
- Almost 50% of fruit and veggies produced each year end up wasted.
- 25–30% of the total amount of fruit and vegetables is lost through processing.
- Last year’s fruit and nut consumption hit 260.17M metric tons.
- Over a million juicers are sold in the US each year.
- In 2020, 216.9M Americans bought and consumed jarred or canned vegetables.
- Onion is the most consumed fresh veggie in the US, reaching 20.5 lbs per capita.
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Worldwide
Data analysis is quite unambiguous about the following conclusion — since 2015, we’ve been consuming significantly more food with each passing year. This section will reveal how much of that global growth is reflected in digits concerning fruits and veggies.
1. In 2021, we ate an astonishing 504.01 million metric tons of vegetables.
Veggies accounted for roughly 20% of the 2.5 billion metric tons of food people consumed in that period.
Interestingly, Statista predicts vegetable consumption will have exceeded 607 million metric tons by 2026, second only to one food product group — bread and cereal.
2. Compared to veggies, last year’s fruit and nut consumption was far lower in 2021 — 260.17 million metric tons.
This specific food product group has maintained a pretty steady level over the last decade or so. For instance, in 2015, we consumed 258.17 million metric tons of these foods, and the deviations have since been subtle.
Still, fruit consumption statistics indicate we may raise the intake to 266.61 million metric tons this year.
Fruits and nuts regularly rank as the fourth most in-demand food category (after bread and cereal, vegetables, and dairy products and eggs).
They’re also likely to keep that rank in the future, though their consumption volume is forecasted to reach over 300 million metric tons in 2026.
3. China has the highest vegetable intake per capita in the world.
(Our World in Data) (Statista)
Data from 2017 estimates that the country’s daily intake per capita is well over the minimum amount of 250 g recommended by WHO. More precisely, a Chinese citizen eats an average of 2.27 lbs of veggies a day.
It’s not surprising that China is also the world’s greatest producer of fresh vegetables.
To paint a clearer picture, its production volume reached no less than 594 million metric tons in 2020, surpassing India and the US (the rest of the top three producers) by hundreds of millions of tons.
4. China accounted for 25.4% of global fruit consumption in 2019.
It turns out China is unparalleled when we compare both fruit and vegetable consumption by country. In fact, the newest available data show that in 2019, an astonishing 52,685 kt (or 53.53 million metric tons) of fruit were consumed here.
5. On a global level, 1% of DALYs and 2.8% of deaths in the world are linked to insufficient produce consumption.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults eat at least 400 g of veggies and fruit daily.
The nutrients those foods provide are a powerful ally in keeping a healthy diet and aid the prevention of obesity, cardiovascular issues, cancer, diabetes, and many other diseases.
6. The UN reports that we waste almost 50% of fruit and veggies produced each year.
Considering that millions of people suffer serious ailments and lose their lives due to malnutrition, this quantity of food waste is extremely shocking.
Moreover, a great portion of it is actually retail food waste. As much as 30% of what stores throw away is food, primarily fruit and veggies.
7. Data on vegetable consumption per capita by country point to Chad as the country with the lowest vegetable intake.
(Our World in Data) (WFP)
According to Our World in Data, Chad stands out the most with a devastatingly low daily vegetable supply of 17.21 g. This means that an average citizen of this country eats about 6 kg (or 13 lbs) of veggies a year.
Because of the extremely high poverty rate, there’s a striking lack of nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables. Consequently, 37.8% of Chadian children younger than five are stunted.
Since over 40% of its population lives below the national poverty line, Chad is one of the 117 countries helped by the World Food Programme.
8. 25–30% of the total amount of fruit and vegetables can get lost through processing.
If we compare production stats and stats on fruit and vegetable consumption worldwide, we’ll notice that the amounts produced are generally higher than those used.
Besides the production stage, fruit and veggies are also wasted during the distribution and retail stage (about 12%). Finally, consumers are thought to waste up to 28% of these foods. Put together, that’s a remarkable quantity of food that never reaches the stomach.
9. Potatoes are the world’s most popular veggies, while bananas are the most popular fruit.
(Helgi Library) (APTRC) (National Geographic) (Medium)
Three years ago, a whopping 251.99M metric tons of potatoes were consumed globally. The greatest consumers of this veggie were China, India, and the US. When it comes to the most commonly used fruit, bananas rank first with an annual quantity of 114.13M tons.
However, many would deny these statements because of a contestant competing for the title in both categories — tomato. As opposed to nutritionists, botanists don’t treat this plant as a vegetable, which is why numerous available sources actually list it as the most popular fruit.
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the US
What’s the situation like in the States? Do Americans eat healthy? Are they responsible produce consumers, and what are their preferences? Find out in the following section.
10. As little as 10% of adult Americans maintain a sufficient intake of veggies and fruit.
The percentage varies depending on factors such as sex or ethnicity. For instance, out of the 12.3% of people who eat enough fruit, the largest group are Hispanics (16.4%). Moreover, only 10.1% of those who meet the recommended intake are men.
Age plays an important role in the amount of consumption, too. For instance, out of 10% of people who consume enough vegetables, 12.5% are people aged 51 or older, while other age groups score lower percentages.
11. Over a million juicers are sold in the US each year.
It seems that many Americans use juicers to up vitamin intake. The sales of juice extractors have been increasing steadily in the past five years. In 2017, 1.18 million of these units were sold, and two years later, the number of retail sales reached 1.49 million.
12. Stats on fruit and vegetable consumption by state show Vermont has the highest percentage of people who consume enough produce.
(America’s Health Rankings)
According to official data from 2021, 14.1% of Vermont’s citizens consume at least three veggies and two pieces of fruit every day. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kentucky as the state with the lowest percentage in the US — 4.7%.
What’s more, only four other states besides Vermont reached over 10%:
- Connecticut (11.3%)
- New York (11%)
- Rhode Island (10.4%)
- Arizona (10.2%).
13. Stats on fruit consumption in the US show that bananas are Americans’ no. 1 fruit.
A 2021 survey by Statista revealed that as many as 63% of the respondents had purchased and consumed bananas in the preceding year. Strawberries came in second with 56%, while grapes and apples tied at third place with 55% each.
Coincidentally, Walmart reports that bananas remain its best-selling item. Over one billion pounds of this fruit is sold through the world’s biggest retailer.
14. In 2020, 216.9M Americans bought and consumed jarred or canned vegetables.
In other words, over 60% of people relied on jarred or canned foods to up their produce intake. Experts also expect that the number of US citizens consuming these foods will have reached 223.09 million within the next two years.
15. The most commonly used vegetables in the US are potatoes, which are consumed by 62% of Americans.
Tomatoes aren’t that far behind either — 61% of Statista’s survey respondents claimed to have bought and consumed this veggie in the preceding 12 months. Onions came in third with 57%, followed by carrots (51%), bell peppers (46%) and broccoli (also 46%).
16. When it comes to per-capita fresh vegetable consumption, statistics tell us that onions took the lead in 2021 with 20.5 lbs.
Since we’re talking about fresh veggies, it’s not strange that potatoes or tomatoes didn’t make it to the very top of the list. As you already know, potatoes can’t be consumed raw, and huge quantities of tomatoes end up processed (for ketchup, sauces, snacks, etc.).
So, onions reached the highest intake per person, though they’re generally the third most popular veggie in the States. However, tomatoes did make it to second place here with 18.8 lbs per capita, while leaf/romaine lettuce ranked third with 12.7 lbs.
Spreading awareness about the importance of proper nutrition is a challenging task. Plus, the influence of social media doesn’t necessarily make this task easier because it doesn’t always view health as a priority.
That’s precisely why we need to take experts’ guidelines and advice more seriously and do our own fair share of research. By doing so, we act preventatively and protect our health.
What country eats the most vegetables?
The champion title in this category goes to China. According to Our World in Data, the average vegetable consumption per capita in this country surpasses 2 lbs a day!
(Our World in Data)
Who consumes the most fruit?
Interestingly enough, China ranks first in this category as well. To paint a clearer picture of the quantity of fruit they consume, it’s enough to take a closer look at information on 2019.
That year, out of the total of 210.78M metric tons of fruit used that year, 53.53M tons was accounted for by China. Calculated in fractions, we’re talking about a quarter of the global fruit intake.
What is the most consumed vegetable in the world?
Potatoes and tomatoes are the most popular veggies on the planet. In 2019, 251M metric tons of potatoes and 38.3M metric tons of tomatoes were consumed worldwide.
This is hardly surprising, considering the huge popularity of French fries, ketchup, pizza, and similar foods.
(USDA) (Helgi Library) (APTRC)
Do Americans consume enough fruits and vegetables?
The CDC reports that only a tenth of adults in America meet the recommended intake. Furthermore, 12% of grownups eat sufficient amounts of fruit as opposed to 9% of those who eat enough vegetables.
However, according to fruit and vegetable consumption statistics derived from a government-conducted survey, 95% of adult Americans maintain a daily vegetable intake (in whatever amount), while about two-thirds of the respondents claimed to consume fruit every day.