Variations in fresh fruit and vegetable quality by store type, urban-rural setting and neighbourhood deprivation in Scotland

Steve Cummins, Dianna M Smith, Matt Taylor, John Dawson, David Marshall, Leigh Sparks, Annie S. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: Neighbourhood differences in access to fresh fruit and vegetables may
explain social inequalities in diet. Investigations have focused on variations in
cost and availability as barriers to the purchase and consumption of fresh produce;
investigations of quality have been neglected. Here we investigate whether
produce quality systematically varies by food store type, rural–urban location and
neighbourhood deprivation in a selection of communities across Scotland.
Design: Cross-sectional survey of twelve fresh fruit and vegetable items in 288
food stores in ten communities across Scotland. Communities were selected to
reflect a range of urban–rural settings and a food retail census was conducted in
each location. The quality of twelve fruit and vegetable items within each food
store was evaluated. Data from the Scottish Executive were used to characterise
each small area by deprivation and urban–rural classification.
Setting: Scotland.
Results: Quality of fruit and vegetables within the surveyed stores was high.
Medium-sized stores, stores in small town and rural areas, and stores in more
affluent areas tended to have the highest-quality fresh fruit and vegetables. Stores
where food is secondary, stores in urban settings and stores in more deprived
areas tended have the lowest-quality fresh produce. Although differences in
quality were not always statistically significant, patterns were consistent for the
majority of fruit and vegetable items.
Conclusions: The study provides evidence that variations in food quality may
plausibly be a micro-environmental mediating variable in food purchase and
consumption and help partially explain neighbourhood differences in food
consumption patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2044-2050
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


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