The Food Foundation, together with Nourish Scotland, Food Cardiff and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched a joint fundraising initiative, Veg Power, to increase the consumption of vegetables through marketing.

The initiative was launched as a crowdfunding project led by Peas Please, which aims to raise €100,000 to support the groups marketing activities to make vegetables ‘inspiring’, ‘fun’ and ‘contemporary’.

Campaign group Living Loud founder Dan Parker, who is assisting the Food Foundation, said that the best way to measure vegetable consumption is through monitoring sales.

He told Food Navigator: “People buy happiness not health, so this is no longer about the health message and cartoon vegetables with smiley faces. It’s about making veg cool and contemporary in a way that means kids don’t need to be bribed with dessert to finish their greens. In our first year, we’ll be operating on a modest budget to make the case to government, supermarkets, and growers to invest greater sums in marketing veg in the years ahead.”

Veg Power highlighted a previous, successful advertising campaign by British Summer Fruits as evidence of the potential impact increased advertising of fruit and vegetables can have. Since launching the initiative in 2002, annual sales of berries rose from £370m to £1.26bn.

Peas Please mentioned that 80% of UK children are not eating enough vegetables. According to the organisation, low consumption of vegetables contributes to 20,000 premature deaths every year.

Parker said that Veg Power is ‘in discussions’ with the UK Government, and called on the health secretary Jeremy Hunt and environment secretary Michael Gove to get behind the campaign: “Come on Mr Gove and Mr Hunt, if we can get the UK to eat more veg it will be a massive boom for farming and a life saver for the NHS.

While he could not reveal the food manufacturers that were collaborating with Veg Power, Parker mentioned retailers, saying :“We are in discussions and many of them including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, [the] Coop and Lidl have made fantastic pledges in support of Peas Please, so we know they share our dedication to getting the UK eating more veg.”

Delivering a positive message is at the forefront of the initiative, according to Parker.

“Our health professionals and nutritionists know what we need to do to turn around the obesity and NCD crisis. Most people, particularly parents know they need to eat less junk, more veg and get more active. But we’re failing to communicate that message. We need to stop lecturing people and start inspiring and supporting them,” he added.