Are you trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, but also trying to save money? Those two things can be difficult to do together. But it could be easier, if only there were more coupons for produce.

A new survey asks shoppers what it would take to get them to buy more fruits and vegetables – and coupons are at the top of their list.

That’s according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. In its new report, “Primary Shoppers’ Attitudes and Beliefs Related to Fruit & Vegetable Consumption“, it asked shoppers what would get them to buy and eat more produce.

Nearly half of those surveyed said coupons would help the most. That’s because shoppers say cost is among the most important factors that make it difficult to buy and eat more produce. “Of those who said they didn’t have fresh or fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the home, it was primarily because they were believed to be too expensive,” the report reads. “Shoppers believe in the importance of fruits and vegetables, but perhaps other components of life like finances and family responsibilities get in the way of acting on those beliefs.”

There are practical reasons, of course, that you don’t see a lot of coupons for fresh fruit and veggies. Who’s going to issue the coupons? Most produce isn’t distributed by the major food companies that issue coupons for their packaged food products.

But major food companies do distribute packaged fruit and vegetables. So you do often see coupons for canned vegetables, and jars or plastic containers of fruit.

There’s just one problem. “Some of the more economical canned and juiced fruits and vegetables are becoming less favored,” the report found. They are “thought to be less healthy, with added preservatives or too much sodium and sugar.”

When it comes to saving money on produce, it seems you just can’t win – there are no coupons for the produce that shoppers say they want, and they don’t want the produce that actually does have coupons available.

But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for paying full price. Grocery stores have plenty of sales, after all, with weekly ads that are full of deals on fruits and vegetables. And shoppers say they rely on those weekly ads to decide what to buy – 86% say they check store circulars and signs when making their produce shopping decisions.

They’re also doing most of their produce shopping at traditional grocery stores. More than half of shoppers say the grocery store is their primary source of fruits and vegetables, as compared to about 20% who buy them at supercenters like Walmart or Target. Tellingly, as online grocery shopping gains in popularity, but skeptics say they’d rather pick out their own perishables, only 2% of survey respondents said they have bought produce online – and 0% said it’s their primary source.

The purpose of the Produce for Better Health Foundation report is to encourage healthy eating. But there are some they may never be able to convince. One in five shoppers thinks eating fruits and vegetables is a “chore”, while 5% say they never eat fruit and 3% never eat vegetables at all.

These shoppers may be spending less money by buying comfort foods and packaged products. But by avoiding healthier fare, no matter the cost – their savings could come at the expense of something far more important.

Photo by Thad Zajdowicz

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