Food co-operatives: a potential community-based strategy to improve fruit and vegetable intake in Australia

Seema Mihrshahi, Stephanie R. Partridge, Xiaolei Zheng, Divya Ramachandran, Debbie Chia, Sinead Boylan, Josephine Y. Chau

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Only 5% of Australian children and adults eat enough fruit and vegetables. Two common barriers are high cost and limited access. Food co-operatives ('co-ops') may have the potential to reduce these barriers. We conducted a scoping analysis of food co-ops in the Sydney region to describe their characteristics and objectives. We also conducted a survey of members and non-members of co-ops to assess their fruit and vegetable intake using validated questions. Fifteen food co-ops were identified in the Sydney region and the most common objective was to provide cheap affordable produce. Most co-ops (61%) were in areas of high socio-economic status (SES). Members of food co-ops had a higher vegetable intake than non-members [mean difference (MD) = 0.54 serves/daily; 95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.15 to 0.93] and were also more likely to meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake [odds ratio (OR) = 4.77 (95% CI = 1.15, 19.86)]. Implications of this study are that if food co-ops can be implemented on a wider scale, they hold potential for improving fruit and vegetable intakes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4154
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • fruit
  • vegetable
  • food co-operatives
  • diet

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