Fruit has been the staple ingredient in our diets for centuries, given its precious contribution in fulfilling human needs in term of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many phytonutrients (Plant-derived micronutrients). Fruits are low in calories and fat and are a source of simple sugars, fibers and vitamins, which are essential for optimizing our health. Given these properties, several studies suggest that one should eat at least 2-3 servings of fruit every day. Hence, the frequency of fruit and vegetable purchases in selected European countries has reached a considerable level.
Among the great variety of fruits, citrus fruits are particularly appreciated due to various health benefits, from boosting immunity to fighting cancer. This class of fruits includes lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit, as well as many more hybrids and varieties. In Europe, the volume of citrus fruits produced is led by Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy. Similarly, when the focus is narrowed down to the production of oranges and lemons and limes, Mediterranean countries are producing the greatest amounts.
Spain is one of the main players in the fruit market, both in term of production and consumption. On the consumption side, the volume of fresh fruit consumed as of December 2015 amounted to 336 million kilograms. Taking a closer look at the levels of per capita consumption, oranges and bananas were the main fresh fruit types consumed overall. Also, the distribution channel most used for purchasing fruit consists of traditional grocery stores.
An important segment of the fruit industry is the fruit juice industry. Fruit juice, mechanically extracted by squeezing or macerating the fruits, is highly appreciated for its refreshing character, nutritional benefits and as a good source of instant energy. In 2015, the European production of fruit and vegetable juice amounted to 11 billion liters. Of countries in the European Union, Germany records the highest volume of fruit and vegetable juice production. Not surprisingly, the production of unconcentrated orange juice is greater than other types of fruit juice and nectar.
This is in line with shifting trends among health conscious consumers, moving from carbonated drinks towards natural beverages free from sugars, flavors and preservatives.
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