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Avocado Popularity in Europe Reflects a Shift Towards Healthier Eating Habits

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A comprehensive survey, commissioned by the World Avocado Organization and spanning five European countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), has revealed intriguing insights into Europeans’ minds regarding health, diet, and lifestyle choices. This is particularly important information considering that obesity rates are on the rise, with more than half of the global population expected to be overweight or obese by 2035.

Indeed, the survey’s findings underscore the importance people currently place on healthy eating, as 97% of respondents expressed the significance of maintaining a healthy diet. This breaks down to 23% saying it is “slightly important”, 49% stating it’s “important” and 25% claiming it is “extremely important”. Italians and Spaniards are leading the charge, each with a 99% score. But Germans showed comparatively less concern, with 5% not attaching any importance. 

Almost a quarter of Europeans (23%) no longer describe themselves as omnivores 

An intriguing discovery from the survey is the popularity of low-meat or meat-free diets, with nearly a quarter of respondents reporting not eating meat regularly (omnivore diet) and opting for plant-based alternatives instead. Flexitarianism is embraced by 15% of participants who are cutting down on meat consumption; those who say they completely ban meat are vegetarian (no meat or fish, 3%), pescatarian (no meat other than fish, 3%) or vegan (no meat, fish or dairy products, 1%). Those most set on keeping meat as part of their diet are the Spanish (81%) and Italians (80%), with the UK (75%) and Germany (70%) being those reporting the least amount of meat in their diets. And surprisingly, women (27%) outnumber men (20%) in adopting low-meat or meatless diets, with an omnivore score of 73% for women versus 80% for men. 

Taste is king 

Taste is king when it comes to what is most important to Europeans in terms of the food they eat. Almost four in ten respondents (38%) highlighted taste as the most important factor in their food choices. How healthy the food is came in second, with 28% of people considering it the most important. However, there are clear regional differences. How food tastes is more important than how healthy it is in France (47%) and in the UK (45%), while Italy and Spain prioritise health (43% and 38%, respectively) before taste (28% and 31%, respectively). Cost also comes in as the third most important factor, (13%), though it is a relatively more important factor in the UK (18%). 

70% of Europeans say avocados are healthy

Hailed as a nutritional powerhouse, avocados enjoy widespread popularity, particularly among Spaniards and the French. 70% of Europeans say avocados are healthy. On average, across all countries, the survey reveals an average consumption of nearly one avocado (0.8) per week, with Gen Z and Millennials emerging as avid fans, consuming roughly 1.2 avocados weekly. Urban dwellers show a higher propensity for eating avocados (1 a week) compared to their rural counterparts (0.6 per week), with Spain leading in avocado consumption (1.3 per week on average) and Germany trailing behind (0.6), despite 23% of Germans eating avocados weekly. 

Zac Bard, chairman of the World Avocado Organization and self-proclaimed advocate for healthy eating, remarked: “It is no surprise that avocados are so popular, especially amongst the younger generations, when they offer both great taste and fantastic health benefits too. Though 70% of Europeans believe that avocados are healthy, still 30% don’t know how healthy they are, and 29% say they never eat avocados. So we still have work to do to educate consumers.” 

Fruit or vegetable? The avo enigma 

Despite the avocado’s popularity, the survey unearthed one startling misconception. Nearly 4 in 10 respondents don’t know that avocados are indeed fruits. Moreover, a significant majority (54%) don’t know how avocados grow, with less than half correctly identifying it as a food that grows on a tree, much like an apple. 13% think they grow in bushes or shells like nuts (9%) or even underground like a potato (7%). 

The wiser and older generations tended to know the correct facts more than the younger generations, despite Gen Zs and Millennials tucking down on avocados more regularly.

Some like them hot 

Almost 70% of respondents reported their preferred way to eat avocado as cold and some even straight from the skin (nearly 30%). This is an ideal way to tuck into delicious and nutritious avocados to beat the summer heat, but there is another way to enjoy avocados that is perfect for a sunny day. Who doesn’t love a BBQ? 12% of those surveyed reported preferring to either grill or barbeque their avocados, showing that this new way of eating avocados is already a favourite to some. 

Zac Bard, Chairman of the World Avocado Organization, concludes: “It is striking to see that an overwhelming majority of Europeans are now looking for a more healthy diet and more healthy eating options such as plant-based or non-animal proteins. Avocados are a great source of nutrients, monounsaturated fats, fibre and protein, and they are remarkably low in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. They are the perfect substitute for less healthy options for anyone looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.” 

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