The vegetable industry is looking for ways to increase vegetable consumption. It was hypothesised that consumers might be buying fewer vegetables for fear of wasting them. Horticulture Australia in partnership with AUSVEG sought research to explore the potential for optimising portion sizes to drive increased purchase and consumption. The research focussed on six vegetables including carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower, celery and broccoli.

Consumers do have a strong aversion to vegetable wastage. At an emotional level, wastage evokes feelings of guilt because consumers resent paying for what they won’t use. At a rational level, consumers do not like paying for vegetables and not using them. As a result of this, consumers would rather pay more per kilo if it meant they wasted less. Consumers have unconsciously adapted their behaviour to avoid vegetable wastage, with 81% of consumers trying to purchase the right amount of vegetables for their needs.

As expected, there is not necessarily one optimum portion size for each vegetable, however offering a larger range of alternatives will result in an overall uplift in purchase consumption. It was hypothesised that this uplift would come at the expense of other vegetables; however, the survey found it would be in addition to what is already purchased.

‘New’ portion sizes do not necessarily need to be developed, with consumers welcoming a greater availability of the ‘standard’ vegetable options. An issue with option availability is evident, however, as the survey confirmed that although most choices are already available somewhere, there is substantial inconsistency across locations.