As new data reveals that Northern Ireland is the worst in the UK for vegetable consumption, nationwide initiative Peas Please launches in Northern Ireland with commitments from four new veg pledgers. Mash Direct, Ulster Farmers Union, Horticulture Forum NI and Henderson are leading the charge to increase vegetable intake in Northern Ireland.

Have a look at Twitter to follow the event as it unfolded. Full press release below.


  • New data shows that Northern Ireland has the lowest vegetable consumption in the UK1, falling well behind England, Scotland and Wales
  • Peas Please, a UK-wide initiative to make veg more accessible, affordable and appealing, launches in Northern Ireland today
  • Nearly 20% (19.6%) of the Northern Ireland population eats less than one portion of veg per day1 – the highest percentage in the UK
  • Low vegetable consumption contributes to 20,000 premature deaths a year3 in the UK

New data shows that vegetable consumption rates in Northern Ireland are the lowest across the UK.

People in Northern Ireland eat an average of two vegetable portions a day (less than any other UK countries)1, and 20% of the Northern Ireland population eats less than one portion a day, compared with 11.8% in England, 13.8% in Scotland and 15.9% in Wales. The Eatwell Guide2 recommends adults eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

On average in Northern Ireland, 140kg of veg is consumed per person each day, but that rises to 160kg in Scotland, 167kg in Wales and 178kg in England.

The Peas Please initiative, which is working to drive up consumption in the UK, launches its Northern Ireland chapter today at the Balmoral Show (10.00am in the Food Pavilion).

Peas Please is coordinated by partner organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and aims to bring together business and brands from across the food system to secure commitments to improve the availability, affordability and quality of the veg offered in supermarkets, shops, schools, pubs, fast food outlets and beyond. Peas Please has delivered 4.8 million additional portions of veg in its first nine months, as detailed in 2018’s Progress Report.

For every one of your five-a-day eaten, your risk of mortality decreases by 5%4. Eating more veg could prevent diet-related illnesses like heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, and significantly reduce the subsequent financial burden on the NHS.

The ITV and Veg Power #EatThemToDefeatThem campaign is also showcasing its work at the Balmoral Show in the Healthy Horticulture tent. Amanda Grant’s Cook School has been running cooking demonstrations and teaching kids to prepare simple, vegetable-based dishes, and other vegetable-centred activities will help to highlight the veg appeal for children at the show.

Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “There’s huge potential for Northern Ireland to be a veg consumption trailblazer – its considerable vegetable production makes it an exciting place to work on the much-needed challenge of driving up veg intake. Peas Please shows that it is possible to make it easier for everyone to eat more veg, and the new Northern Ireland pledgers are taking the first step in showing concerted leadership from progressive businesses. Now the pressure is on to change pledges into portions and ensure genuine impact on the nation’s health.”

Jack Hamilton, Director, Mash Direct said:  “We are thrilled to bring one of the most exciting food campaigns in recent history to Northern Ireland. Nobody has ever tried to get behind vegetables like this before and it has been hugely energising to work with such a ground-breaking campaign.”

Ulster Farmers Union deputy president, David Brown said:

“The UFU are delighted to be supporting this initiative. We need to convince parents and children that eating more healthily is not only good, but also a tasty decision. We need to get across the message that when it comes to fruit and vegetables different approaches to preparation and cooking can turn these into popular choices. We want to banish the word boring for ‘WOW’. It’s about stressing that both vegetables and fruit can be tasty as well as good for you. This campaign has the potential to change the mindset of both children and adults and we as an organisation are committed to this cause. The diet change we want to encourage will be a lifetime long boost for children’s health as they grow into adults and it is hoped that they will enjoy the huge range of tastes, textures and colours that a world of fruit and vegetables has to offer.”

Neal Kelly, Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Group said; “With over 400 SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVO, VIVOXTRA and VIVO Essentials stores across Northern Ireland, we are proud to source over 75% of our fresh produce from local suppliers, farmers and growers.

“Our pledge to ‘Peas Please’ means that we will commit to further growing those partnerships with the relaunch of our produce range as The Greengrocer. This means that with the help of our local suppliers, we’ll bring even more convenient solutions to make healthy eating more sustainable.”

Notes to editors

  1. National Diet and Nutrition Survey data for Northern Ireland (2012-2016)
  4. Wang Xia, Ouyang Yingying, Liu Jun, Zhu Minmin, Zhao Gang, Bao Wei et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies BMJ 2014; 349 :g4490

Anna Taylor is available for further comment.

Please contact: Jo Ralling – 07770500858 /

Pandora Haydon – 07789712608 /









About Peas Please

A trail-blazing initiative focused specifically on veg, Peas Please aims to bring together farmers, retailers, fast food and 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, WWF UK, Nourish Scotland, Food NI and Food Sense Wales 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