New Report: Veg Facts 2021

Major New Report shows that lack of veg in our diets is associated with 18,000 premature deaths a year in the UK

Peas Please announce finalists in the 2021 Awards- click here to view the finalists

  • A third (29%) of children aged 5-10 years old eat less than one portion of veg a day
  • 77% of adults eat less veg than the amount recommended in the Eatwell Guide
  • A fifth (20%) of children’s vegetable intake now comes from foods classed as ultra-processed with pizza and baked beans accounting for 16% of children’s veg intake
  • Only 6% of children aged 11-16 years old are currently meeting the government’s Eatwell Guide recommendation for veg
  • Just 1.9% of food and drink advertising spend currently goes towards veg, compared to the 17.5% that goes on confectionary

8th June 2021 – The Peas Please initiative, which works to make vegetables more appealing, accessible and affordable, releases its latest VEG FACTS 2021 Report today. Peas Please is a partnership with The Food Foundation, Food Sense Wales, Nourish Scotland, Belfast Food Network and Food NI. Since the project launched 4 years ago it has delivered 162 million additional portions of vegetables into our food system working across all 4 nations.

The report continues to show that both adults and children are not consuming enough veg to meet the Government’s EAT WELL GUIDE recommendations. This is likely to have a long term impact on our health with diets that are low in vegetables and legumes being associated with just under  18,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

Both children and teenagers continue to be consuming far too few vegetables with 29% of 5-10 year olds eating less than a portion of veg a day and only 6% of 11-16 year olds eating the amount of veg recommended in the Eatwell Guide. The report also highlights where children are getting their vegetables from with over a fifth of children’s and teenager’s vegetable intake now coming from foods classed as Ultra Processed which are often high in salt, sugar and fat. Baked beans and pizza together contribute 16% of children’s vegetable intake.

A number of children are at risk of micronutrient (vitamin and mineral deficiencies). 38% of children aged 11-16 have magnesium intakes below the lowest recommended amount, and 21% have intakes of vitamin A below the recommended amount. In the UK vegetables contribute >10% to intakes of these nutrients and could therefore be important sources of food which can contribute to driving up intakes of these essential nutrients.

The affordability of vegetables is also highlighted in the report as being a major factor in low consumption rates. Calorie for calorie, foods high in sugar or fat are a third of the price of the cost of vegetables.

If the population started to consume the recommended 5 a day of fruit and veg it would increase the value of UK veg production by £261 million. If this rose to 7 a day of fruit and veg it would add another £1 billion to the UK economy.

Peas Please works with over 100 pledgers right across the food system and is today also announcing the finalists to their 2021 Peas Please awards. The Awards are to recognise the businesses that have gone above and beyond and are leading the way in terms of transforming their businesses to drive up vegetable consumption.

The winners will be announced on the 23rd June 2021 when the The Veg Summit will be broadcast from River Cottage and hosted by chef and writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Register for the event HERE.

This will be the culmination of a week long Veg Summit held in all four nations made up of over 12  events to showcase and highlight work from around the UK to promote veg.



Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, Food Foundation said:

“The latest report from the Peas Please initiative is a timely one – highlighting the barriers to eating enough veg that large sections of the population continue to face. Although we have seen some really encouraging progress made by our Peas Please pledgers, there has never been a more critical time to really accelerate action and ramp up vegetable intake. Veg are the golden thread connecting diets that are both more healthful and more sustainable, and we must act now to ensure that everyone in the UK is able to access and afford enough veg.”


Rebecca Tobi, Peas Please project manager said:

“Our latest report, Veg Facts 2021, finds that although there has been some really encouraging progress made since the launch of Peas Please four years ago we still have a long way to go before the UK truly becomes a veg-eating nation. Most concerningly, children’s veg consumption remains stubbornly low, and the gap between how much veg the richest and poorest people in the UK are eating continues to widen. Ahead of COP26, and with this year the UN’s designated International Year of Fruit and Vegetables, we are calling for innovative, bold and creative actions from businesses, governments and citizens to drive up vegetable consumption across the UK”


Michele Shirlow MBE, CEO Food NI, Peas Please partner said:

“The Veg Facts Report is very relevant for Northern Ireland as currently NI has the lowest average veg consumption in the UK. We are working with growers and industry bodies to help to promote the excellent range of quality vegetables grown in NI, to the highest standards. Increasing veg in our diets will not only have benefits for our own health, but also local industry, communities and our planet.”


Notes to Editors 

  1. Peas Please Progress Report 2019
  2. Veg Facts, Food Foundation 2016
  3. Veg Facts in brief: 2020
  4. Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2016. Country Profile: United Kingdom
  5. Peas Please 2020 Report


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About Peas Please

A trail-blazing initiative focused specifically on veg, Peas Please aims to bring together farmers, retailers, restaurant chains, caterers, processors and government departments with a common goal of making it easier for everyone to eat veg. Committed to collaborative working, Peas Pease is led by project partners the Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland, Food Sense Wales, Food NI, and Belfast Food Network who have secured engagement and support from over 150 organisations in cities, business and Governments across the UK to bring about change to the whole food system to improve people’s health and wellbeing. For more information about the Peas Please, please visit

The partnership is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, who have made this work possible.


About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.