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Potatoes, carrots, apples and strawberries are Canada’s most popular produce

Canadians show strong preference for local produce and potatoes, carrots, and apples, according to a recent consumer insight survey.


March 10, 2020
By Stephanie Gordon


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Potatoes, carrots, apples and strawberries are some of the most consumed produce by Canadians in the past 12 months, according to a consumer insight survey conducted by Leger 360.

The survey of Canadian consumer habits also revealed that Canadians show a strong preference for buying local and think locally-grown produce is high quality.

Leger 360 polled 1,587 Canadians about their fruit and vegetable consumption habits through their online panel in early January. Michelle Carter and Lisa Covens from Leger 360 presented the survey results at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention (OFVC) held in Niagara Falls from February 19 to 20.

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Leger 360 is one of the largest Canadian-owned market research companies and regularly conducts market research about Canadians. Covens said that the margin error for this consumer insights survey was within a 2.5 per cent margin.

The top fruits and veggies

The most popular vegetables consumed by Canadians in the past 12 months were: potatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, celery and beans.

The most popular fruits were: apples, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, melons, peaches, cherries, and pears.

Audience members during the presentation asked about asparagus and bananas, and while they are still consumed by Canadians, neither food made the most popular in their categories. That means that less than half of Canadians have eaten bananas or asparagus in the past 12 months.

Strong support for local

There is a strong presence among Canadians for supporting local, especially in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.

In total, 85 per cent of Canadians prefer to buy local vegetables and 84 per cent prefer to buy local fruits. Atlantic Canada showed the strongest preference with around 92 per cent of survey participants preferring to buy local, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba showed the least with only around 71 per cent preferring to buy local. The low percentages can be attributed to availability and quality – there is less variety of locally grown produce in the Prairies.

Covens noted that Atlantic Canada always skews more positive generally so the high support for local produce is not surprising. Overall, Canadians buy local produce to encourage the local economy, for product freshness or quality, to reduce their environmental footprint, and to pay less.

Overall, 90 per cent of Canadians have trust in their own, provincially-grown produce. A little less than that, 82 per cent, think the produce grown in their own province is of top quality.

Despite types of produce available and whether or not it’s local, 75 per cent of the survey respondents agree that price is the most important when purchasing produce. This is especially true when household income fell below the $80,000 mark.

Food trends: plant-based and cannabis

Leger 360 also presented on larger consumption trends, such as the rise of plant-based diets and the buzz around cannabis.

For survey respondents, who are representative of Canadians in general, 42 per cent have tried plant-based diets. Two per cent refuse to try completely, while 33 per cent just haven’t tried sticking to a plant diet. The answers were very dependent on age, with people aged 18 to 34 more likely to try plant-based diets (59 per cent in that age range tried plant-based diets). For people aged 65 or over, only 27 per cent had tried eating plant-based in the past 12 months.

For cannabis, there was less enthusiasm. Only 29 per cent of Canadians surveyed consumed cannabis (in any form) in the past 12 months. A larger majority – 68 per cent – did not consume cannabis in the past year. Two per cent of people refuse to try cannabis, showing that regardless of what the trend is there’s bound to always be a small population that never engage.

In a provincial breakdown, there was no surprise that cannabis consumption was more popular in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Cannabis consumption also varied by age, gender and income level. Cannabis consumption was more popular among those aged 18 to 34, men (33 per cent compared to 26 per cent of women), and households that recorded an income level of $40,000 or lower.