The population of Ireland eats more fruit and vegetables on a daily basis than any other EU member state, new statistics have shown.

A report published yesterday (Tuesday, January 4) by Eurostat – the EU body that handles statistics – shows that 33% of the population of Ireland consumes five portions or more of fruit and vegetables per day.

This figure for Ireland is higher than in any other EU country. The Netherlands has the second-highest level of fruit and veg intake, with 30% eating five portions or more a day. Denmark and France were third and fourth on the list, with 23% and 20% respectively.

On the other end of the scale, Romania saw the lowest level of fruit and veg consumption, with just 2% of that country’s population getting their five-a-day. Both Bulgaria and Slovenia (5% each), as well as Austria (6%) saw notably low levels of fruit and veg consumption.

The report from Eurostat shows that a third of people in the EU (33%) don’t consume any fruit or veg on a daily basis, and only 12% consumed the recommended five potions or more a day.

On average, over half the EU’s population (55%) said they ate between one and four portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The level of fruit and veg intake differs notably between men and women (this also includes persons aged 15 years and over).

On average, 58% of women eat between one and four potions a day, compared to 51% of men.

The discrepancy also holds true among people who eat five or more portions a day. 15% of women do so, versus just 10% for men.

Based on these figures, you would expect a higher proportion of men to feature in the ‘zero portions’ category, and that’s exactly the case, with 39% of men not eating any fruit or veg on a daily basis, compared to 27% of women.

The report was published on the same day that the EU made other comments of a dietary nature.

The European Commission has approved a budget of €186 million to promote EU agri-food produce both within and outside the union this year.

This includes encouraging consumers to have a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat.

This has been slammed by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), whose president, Dermot Kelleher, described the EU policy as a “wilful misrepresentation of the actual research”.

“The EU seems to be blaming red meat consumption for increased cancer risk, whereas the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] report on behalf of the World Health Organisation [WHO] only found a marginal increased risk in the case of processed meats. It could not find sound evidence regarding unprocessed red meats,” Kelleher claimed.