Fresh food retail volume is an indicator that can be used to understand trends in shifting dietary patterns and changing dietary quality. Low- and middle-income countries have rapidly been undergoing a nutrition transition characterized by increased consumption of processed foods coupled with decreased consumption of fresh foods (Popkin et al., 2013). These changes come with serious health implications, as processed and ultra-processed foods tend to be less nutrient dense and have been linked with poorer diet quality (Imamura et al., 2015) as well as increased diet-related illness (Micha et al., 2012). The fresh food retail volume is national-level indicator that quantifies the volume of fresh foods sold at markets, reported in kilograms per capita. It provides information on the quantity of healthier foods in the food supply and can provide a fuller picture of dietary transition when used in conjunction with the indicator for packaged food retail volume (Global Nutrition Report, 2015).
Method of Construction
Currently, data for this indicator are collected and available for purchase from Euromonitor (Euromonitor International, 2016). Government ministries may also collect data related to market-level retail sales and/or volume.
This indicator, in combination with the indicator that measures retail volume of packaged foods, has been recommended by the Global Nutrition Report (GNR) to assess national food consumption diversity (Global Nutrition Report, 2015). Food consumption diversity is one of the four food system outcomes identified by the GNR, and have been selected as metrics for achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), and 12 (responsible consumption and production) (Sustainable Development Goals, 2015). When used in conjunction with other market-level data on production and/or consumption, it can also be used to capture the extent to which fresh foods are transported along the supply chain and the extent to which fresh food is bought at markets by consumers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
A strength of this indicator is that it allows for an analysis of dietary patterns at the population level and is comparable across many countries, as Euromonitor currently collects data on fresh food retail volume in 54 countries (Euromonitor International, 2016).
A major drawback is that as a national-level indicator, it does not capture any measurement of distribution among regional, socioeconomic, or age/sex groups. An indicator like household adequacy of fruit and vegetable consumption would be more appropriate for examining fresh food consumption on a finer scale and potentially comparing across sub-populations and groups. Additionally, although fresh foods are assumed to be nutritionally superior to packaged ones, this indicator does not report macronutrient or micronutrient consumption, which would be better examined using an individual indicator such as total individual micronutrient intake or total individual macronutrient intake.
Euromonitor collects and compiles data on fresh food retail volume in 54 countries, and access must be purchased (Euromonitor International, 2016). Other related indicators include: National fruit and vegetable availability in food supply and Household adequacy of fruit and vegetable consumption.
There are no links to validation studies to show for this indicator.