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The increased well being of Russian consumers in recent years has had a significant impact on the amount of fruit individuals eat on a regular basis.

According to various estimates of Russia's Federal Service Of State Statistics (2013), the average amount of fruit consumed in Russia was estimated within the range of 61 to 74 kilograms annually.

Over the last decade, since 2003, the consumption of fruit has more than doubled. However, the pattern of fruit consumption between the urban population and the rural population is quite different:  individuals living in urban areas on average eat about quarter (27 percent more) as much fruit as those living in rural areas – 79 and 62 kilograms, respectively.

{In the last decade, fruit consumption among the Russian population has more than doubled, according to estimates of the Federal Service of State Statistics (2013).}

In July 2014, during a roundtable discussion hosted in Russia Today's press center, specialists of Russia's Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) presented a report of the “State Surveillance Systems For National Nutrition”, in which results of a sample survey of the population's diet included 45,000 households, or 103,500 individuals, and involved all age groups in all regions of the Russian Federation. The study allowed researchers to estimate the main characteristics of the population's diet, including the level of consumption of the main food groups.

Based on the survey by Rosstat, Information Agency FruitNews extrapolated the tendencies relating to the characteristics of fruit consumption in Russia.

Availability Of Fruit

Seventy-one percent of the total number of participants of Rosstat's study reported that they could afford to buy and consume fruit every day.

Cities with a population of over one million people have the highest share of households with the opportunity to acquire fruit every two days (84 percent of respondents reported). In rural areas, however, only 58 percent of the population reported that they have similar opportunities to do so. Also, the data showed that there was a large opportunity for young families to purchase and consume fruit - 82 percent of families under this category. The opportunity for pensioners, disabled persons and families with several children to purchase fruit was found to be at a much lower level. The percentage that these groups were able to consume fruit during the day was reported at 57 percent, 57 percent and 61 percent of households that comprise these groups, respectively.

Families with children of up to 18 years of age were more likely to report that they do consume fruit every two days, compared to families with no children: 76 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

It is assumed that young people in urban areas, as well as the populations of large cities, on average, have a higher income, which allows them to buy more fruit. The younger population and families with children pay closer attention to a healthy lifestyle and nutrition. As a result, this group allocates a larger part of their budget to purchase healthy food products, such as fruit.

In addition to higher incomes, people living in large cities also have greater access to a variety of outlets with efficient logistics systems and offer a wide variety of items. Rural residents are usually used to having, comparatively, a smaller assortment, consisting of seasonal fruit that is traditionally grown in Russia, such as apples, pears and plums among other fruits.

The Frequency Of Fruit Consumption In Russia

The study shows that 57 percent of the population consumes fruit on a daily basis or several times a week. The share of Russians that eat fruit most often are individuals living in cities with a population over one million people, 64 percent of which eat fruit daily or several times a week. Among those living in cities, of which the population is less than one million, 61 percent said that they consume fruit daily or several times a week, and families with children were estimated at 61 percent, and those living in rural areas make up the lowest percentage – 44 percent, retired individuals – 47 percent and disabled persons – 49 percent.

graphic No 1: A Look At The Amount Of Fresh Fruit 14-Year-Old Respondents Eat On A Regular Basis

On average women consume more fruit than men, and the frequency of fruit consumption among young people – ages 16 to 29, is significantly higher than other age categories.

graphic No 2: How Often Do Men And Women, Ages 14 And Up, Eat Fresh Fruit?

At the same time, Russian parents try to encourage their children, three to 13 years of age, to eat fruit more frequently. On average, 81 percent of households with children reported that the younger generation in their families eats fruit daily or several times a week. This percentage was higher – 88 percent, in families living in large cities and was significantly lower if they had three or more children – 66 percent; and among families in rural areas, it was 70 percent.  The frequency of fruit consumption that was reported among families with either one or two children was identical at 84 percent.

graphic No 3: How Often Do Children, Ages 3 – 13, Eat Fresh Fruit?

Fruit and Health Food

Eighty-three percent of participants agreed that a person's diet affects their health. But many consumers responded that it is difficult for them to construct 'the proper diet'. Eighty-eight percent answered that choosing the proper diet depends on knowing which types of foods are healthy, and which are not. However, 81 percent of consumers said that it is difficult for them to use general recommendations as criteria to form a healthy diet decisions because there are so many options, making it difficult at times for respondents to determine what or whom to believe.

{ Because there are so many recommendations and health-related information available, 81% of consumers said that it is difficult for them to correctly utilize such recommendations to construct a healthy diet. Respondents also reported that they have difficulty determining what (information) or whom to believe. }

At the same time, 39 percent of participants said that it is very important that an individual's diet includes adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, 40 percent of respondents said that eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is a “fairly essential” component to of a healthy diet.

Only 31 percent of women and 25 percent of men admitted that while trying to improve their diet, they will make the decision to eat a dessert that consists of fruit instead of a high-calorie confectionery from time to time.

FruitNews was also interested in the percentage of people that adhere to a vegetarian diet. Elena Frolova, head of Department of Living Standards and Population Surveys for Russia's Federal Service of State Statistics, said:

“They (vegetarians) are less than 10 percent (of the respondents included in the survey). I cannot say for sure, but they are within 5-7 percent. There are very very few people like this.  Although the sample is quite large, there are very few. We expected more,” she said.

In general, specialists have given Russians a negative assessment on the way they choose to manage their diet.

“If children and adults eat sweets and cakes once a week in small quantities, it's nothing. However, it turns out that 40 percent of the population eats these products once a week, or every day. This is bad,” said Professor and Deputy Director of the Institute of Nutrition Alexander Baturin.

According to the numbers, Russian consumers are not carefully considering the information available to them to make better choices when it comes to comparing food labels.  Russia's Federal State Statistics Service, or Rosstat, found the following information:

  • 4 percent of respondents said that they always read the information on the label;
  • 4 percent said that it is important to read food labels but, at the same time, they find it difficult to understand;
  • 5 percent said that they do not read the label and or do not pay attention to it.

Of the 52.5 percent that responded that they do not read the label, 21.8 percent also said that they do not do so because reading takes a lot of time; 16.1 percent said that they do not believe the information that is printed on the label, and 14.6 percent said that they don't read labels because they don't understand the meaning of the information on the label.

Conclusions

This study showed and proved not only the theoretical but also the actual importance of the consumption of fruit among Russians. They recognize the importance of nutrition, for themselves, as well as that of the younger generation, as demonstrated by the results of the study. This trend originated in the large Russian cities, but, it's possible that a larger assortment of products will be made available to small town residents within several years as consumer preferences change.

IA FruitNews About Preferences For Fruit and Vegetables In Russia:

According to the estimates of the Federal State Statistics Service, the average consumption of fruits and berries in Russia in 2012 was 74 kilograms a year per capita, and vegetables and watermelons amounted to 100 kilograms a year, and potatoes – 64 kilograms annually. Moreover, over the last decade, compared to the statistics of 2003, the structure of consumption for these products changed significantly. The consumption of fruit and berries doubled during this period, the demand for vegetables and melons rose almost one-fifth (or by 19 percent), whereas demand for potatoes, on the other hand, decreased by 34 percent.

{ Urban residents on average eat about 27 % more fruit than the rural population.}

Here again, the study finds that there is a significant difference in the consumption trends of the rural and urban populations of Russia.

Urban residents on average eat about 27 percent more fruit than the rural population (79 kilograms and 62 kilograms, respectively), while the consumption of potatoes is higher by 25 percent in rural areas as opposed to its urban counterpart (75 kilograms a year in rural areas and 60 kilograms a year in urban areas). The consumption of vegetables of both urban and rural populations, however, was at about the same level.

On average, Russian consumers spend about 6.8 percent of their food budget on fruit. A little over 6 percent of their food budget is allocated toward the purchase of vegetables and watermelons, and 1.3 percent is of their food budget is typically spent to buy potatoes.

At the same time, the higher a household's income, the more likely it will allocate additional money to purchasing fruits, vegetables and watermelons. Simultaneously, the more money a household makes, the less that is spent on potatoes, bread and fats.

The share of a household's expenditures allocated for food purchases for the top 10 percent of the income earners that participated in the study allocate 7.9 percent of their total food budget to fruit. Whereas, the poorest households allocate 5.9 percent to fruit purchases.

In the case of vegetables and melons, the differences between income levels and the amount of money spent for these products are less noticeable: 7.1 percent in affluent households (or 10 percent of the population) and 5.8 percent in households (also 10 percent) with the lowest incomes. The share of food expenditures that went toward buying potatoes of the poorest 10 percent of the population increases to 1.5 percent, while the share that is allocated among the richest 10 percent of the population becomes less – 1.1 percent.

According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, 10 percent of the poorest individuals spend about 44.6 percent of their total expenditures on food. The most affluent 10 percent of the population spends 16 percent of their total expenditures on food. The average share of expenditures for food across the entire Russian population is 33.8 percent.

To read the article in Russian, click here.