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Fresh Not Always Best

Media release May 15, 2000


One hundred percent of consumers say ‘no’ to frozen vegetables in the belief that ‘fresh’ are nutritionally best.(1) The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation today releases information to debunk this myth in a bid to get New Zealanders to eat more vegetables.

Research reviewed by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation shows conclusively that Wattie’s freshlock™ peas contain far higher levels of vitamin C, after three months, than fresh peas after three days(2). The research is part of a report titled ‘Frozen vegetables – do they count?’ which will be distributed to close to 20, 000 health professionals throughout Australasia over the next week.

This comes at a time when research suggests if New Zealanders met the five servings of fruit and vegetables a day target, more than 800 deaths would be prevented each year.(3)

The release of the report ‘Frozen Vegetables – do they count?’ coincides with the launch of a provocative new television commercial on May 21 driven by Wattie’s freshlock™ frozen vegetables. The aim of the campaign, launched in association with the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, is to encourage people to increase their daily vegetable intake.

New Zealand Nutrition Foundation spokesperson Cliff Tasman-Jones says this research proves what nutritionists have known for years – that frozen vegetables are nutritionally as good as, if not better than most ‘fresh’ store-bought vegetables.

“I am pleased that we have some conclusive research showing consumers how valuable frozen vegetables are to a healthy diet. One of our goals is to increase people’s vegetable consumption and we hope the release of these results will help achieve this,” says Prof Tasman-Jones.

“Wattie’s research shows that people feel guilty about including frozen vegetables in their diets as they believe frozen are nutritionally inferior to ‘fresh’. This research provides us with the opportunity and evidence to tell consumers that frozen vegetables can be as good as, if not better than, most store-bought ‘fresh’ vegetables. It’s important to remember that both frozen and fresh vegetables can make a valuable contribution to nutrient intake.

“As soon as vegetables are harvested their vitamin C content begins to decline but the freezing process significantly slows ongoing vitamin C loss. Busy lives mean we may only purchase fresh vegetables once a week, for example, so it is not always the case that ‘fresh’ vegetables are the healthiest option. Freezing within hours of harvesting means nutrients are locked into frozen vegetables,” says Prof Tasman-Jones.
Vitamin C is one of the nutrients most susceptible to loss during preparation. If vitamin C retention is good after preparation, retention of other nutrients will be as high or higher.

The national nutrition survey(4) showed that one in three New Zealanders do not eat the recommended three servings of vegetables daily. Some of the main reasons consumers gave for not eating enough vegetables were lack of ready availability in the home, and preparation time.

Heinz Wattie's Australasia Dietitian Anne Hillis believes that including frozen vegetables in the diet offers consumers an easy way to increase their daily vegetable intake.

“The beauty with frozen vegetables is you can always have them available in the home and our research on Wattie’s freshlock™ peas shows their nutrient profile will remain similar for at least 12 months. They are also easy to prepare when you get home late from work and need a nutritious meal quickly.”

Wattie’s freshlock™ system freezes most vegetables within hours of harvesting. This system locks in nutrients that are lost in fresh vegetables as they continue to age prior to consumption. Research indicates that many frozen vegetables contain the same or higher levels of vitamin C than most ‘fresh’ vegetables sold under normal commercial conditions.

1. Millward Brown formerly Yann Campbell Hoare Wheeler, 1999.Confidential Research Report. Project Harvest: Exploratory Research Report, January 1999. Heinz Wattie’s Australasia commissioned Yann Campbell Hoare Wheeler to research perceptions, usage and knowledge of frozen vegetables. Twelve extended group discussions were conducted in Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne and Sydney. The participants were a mixture of light, regular and infrequent frozen vegetable users aged between 25 and 55 years.

2. Frozen Vegetables – Do They Count?, 2000, Heinz Wattie’s Australasia/New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research/Nutrition Australia/New Zealand Nutrition Foundation

3. Lane and Watts, Commentary Nutrition in the New Millennium, Journal of the New Zealand Dietetic Association, Vol 54, number 1

4. NZ Food: NZ People. Key results of the 1997 National Nutrition Survey. Ministry of Health. 1999

For further information please contact New Zealand Nutrition Foundation,
Prof Cliff Tasman-Jones, phone 09 575 3419 (or contact Network).

Heinz Wattie’s Australasia, Anne Hillis, Dietitian, phone 09 308 5000

Crop & Food Research, Chris Downs or Dr Nelofar Athar, phone 06 3568300,

Issued on behalf of New Zealand Nutrition Foundation/Heinz Wattie’s Australasia by
Network Communications (Jane Dodd and Sarah Williams)
phone 09 379 3154, 025 928 125


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