International Year of Fruits and Vegetables  2021

Regions around the world have different gastronomic and culinary traditions. Similarly, different cultures have access to a variety of different fruits and vegetables and have different nutritional recommendations and guidelines for a proper diet. Yet, one thing that all cultures have in common is that fruits and vegetables are dietary necessities. They assure and maintain overall good health and contribute to the proper functioning of the body.

Did you know that a minimum of 400 grams or five portions is the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables? However, for many, fresh produce items are inaccessible and out of reach. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that fruits and vegetables perish more easily and are thus more highly prone to loss and waste along the agri-food system. Another is that fresh produce is often more expensive than unhealthy snacks and junk foods. As hunger continues to rise for the fifth consecutive year and obesity rates increase, encouraging the consumption of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and ensuring their accessibility is fundamental.

The UN General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). The IYFV 2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 falls within the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) and the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF 2019-2028). These observances reinforce each other while providing greater visibility to small-scale producers and raise awareness on food security and nutrition. The IYFV 2021 can act as a springboard towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. FAO is the lead agency for celebrating the year in collaboration with other relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system.

The IYFV will raise awareness of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption; advocate for healthy diets through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables; promote international efforts to boost fruit and vegetable production and value chains in a sustainable and safe way; bring in a focus on the need to reduce losses and waste in fruit and vegetable supply chains from production to consumption; and invite relevant stakeholders to strengthen the capacities of developing countries to adopt innovative approaches and technologies in combating loss and waste of fruits and vegetables. In addition, special attention will be paid to the role of women, not only in the production of food, but also in assuring the food security of their families and communities.

Official Launch Event of the IYFV-2021

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, launched the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 (IYFV) on 15th December 2020, with an appeal to improve healthy and sustainable food production through innovation and technology and to reduce food loss and waste. FAO, the lead agency for celebrating the year in collaboration with other organizations, launched the year with an international virtual event.

Speaking at the event the FAO Director-General described the initiative as “a unique opportunity to raise global awareness”. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had challenged people to find new ways of fighting hunger and malnutrition and said IYFV would highlight the role of digital technologies in improving nutrition and market opportunities.

“In the current health crisis we are facing around the world, promoting healthy diets to strengthen our immune systems is especially appropriate,” Qu said. While noting the challenges in improving production and agri-food chains, the FAO Director-General encouraged countries to see the International Year as an opportunity to improve infrastructure, farming practices thereby supporting small scale farmers. He emphasized fruits and vegetables were a good way for farmers to create cash crops.

Hundreds of events are being organized worldwide to promote the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, 2021.

Key Facts

  • A minimum amount of 400g per day or five portions of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for health.
  • Introduce fruits and vegetables at as early as 6 months of age and keep them as regular parts of a healthy diet throughout life.
  • Production of high-value fruits and vegetables can be profitable, compared to other crops, from small amounts of land, water and nutrients.
  • COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of short and inclusive value chains – including for fruits and vegetables – as a way to provide better market opportunities for family farmers in urban and peri-urban areas.
  • Digital innovations make it possible to track and trace fresh produce from production to consumption. This broadens market opportunities, reduces losses and waste and makes the value chain more transparent.
  • Fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, (e.g. folate, vitamin A and C, potassium) and beneficial phytochemicals.
  • As part of a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables can help lower risk factors for non-communicable diseases, such as overweight/obesity, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Up to 50 percent of fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries are lost in the supply chain between harvest and consumption.
  • It can take up to 50 litres of water to produce an orange. Losses in fruits and vegetables represent a waste of increasingly scarce resources such as soil and water.
  • Significant quantities of fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fit for consumption are wasted along the food system because of aesthetic or physical irregularities.

Key Messages

Live by it, a diverse diet

Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in adequate amounts daily as part of a diversified and healthy diet.

Foster sustainability

Sustainable and inclusive value chains can help increase production, help to enhance the availability, safety, affordability and equitable access to fruits and vegetables to foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Harness the goodness

Fruits and vegetables have multiple health benefits, including the strengthening of the immune system, that are essential for combating malnutrition in all its forms and overall prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Respect food from farm to table

The high perishability of fruits and vegetables needs special attention to maintain their quality and safety through appropriate treatment and handling across the supply chain from production to consumption in order to minimize loss and waste.

Innovate, cultivate, reduce food loss and waste

Innovation, improved technologies and infrastructure are critical to increase the efficiency and productivity within fruits and vegetables supply chains to reduce loss and waste.

Growing prosperity

Cultivating fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better quality of life for family farmers and their communities. It generates income, creates livelihoods, improves food security and nutrition, and enhances resilience through sustainably managed local resources and increased agrobiodiversity.



Everyone has a role to play – from governments and private sector companies to the general public and even youth. The private sector must promote and implement corporate social responsibility and other initiatives that promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should form networks and action groups to work in an articulated way to promote awareness, availability, accessibility and affordability of fruits and vegetables. Farmers and cooperatives should work together and promote coordination within supply chains to help increase market competitiveness and reduce loss and waste in fruits and vegetables. Governments should implement consistent public policies that ensure healthy food systems in order to promote the availability, accessibility and affordability of fruits and vegetables. Researchers and academic institutions need to be advocates for sustainable production practices. All consumers, including children, should be encouraged to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets

All need to work together to make a difference and ensure that fruits and vegetables become part of everyone’s diet in an effort to promote healthy habits and eradicate hunger and malnutrition from the planet.

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