The food industry is evolving rapidly. Healthy diet is a trend that has been a fundamental driver of change in food and beverages field worldwide. This trend it is not only expected to continue steadily but also to be the major engine for growth in the near future. Fruit and vegetables are key elements of a healthy and balanced diet providing humans with essential nutrients and bioactive compounds, including vitamins, organic acid, carotenoids, minerals, fibre, and polyphenols.
Including fruit and vegetables as part of the daily diet may reduce the risk of some noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. Evidence suggests that when consumed as part of a healthy diet low in fat, sugars and salt/sodium, fruit and vegetables may also help to prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of obesity, an independent risk-factor for NCDs.
Despite the intrinsic health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, EU citizens consumed on average 192 grams of fruits and 161 grams of vegetables per day in 2014, increasing slightly (1,6%) compared to 2013. Although the consumption was below the minimum recommendation of 400 grams by the World Health Organization (WHO), the trend towards natural, sustainable and locally produced fruit and vegetables is positive.
Adapting to different lifestyles remains a challenge for the food industry in Europe. For this reason, in recent years many companies have focused their efforts on developing products that facilitate consumption outside home and, at the same time, are healthy and compatible with a balanced diet. These are the so-called convenience foods, prepared to be eaten at any time and place. This segment has become well known in the fruit and vegetable sector, with a large number of references arising from the trend.