Irish consumers have increased their daily intake of fruit and vegetables in the past two years, but we are still not eating enough according to health experts.

Bord Bia has conducted research which finds that people aged 18-34 are driving the increase in vegetable and fruit consumption. But despite the increase, just five in ten people eat fresh produce daily.

On average we eat 3.9 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, well below the HSE's Health Eating Guidelines, which suggest we should eat seven servings every day.

It used to be five a day, and internationally the recommendations can exceed seven portions.

Now, Bord Bia is trying to encourage people to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into every meal. They are suggesting eating vegetables, with breakfast such as asparagus with eggs.

It also says that vegetables can even be incorporated into things like porridge.

It might sound strange, but dietitian Orla Walsh says simple changes could make all the difference. 

"It could be as simple as grating sweet-tasting carrot into overnight oats, adding spinach to a smoothie or munching on cherry tomatoes at snack time," she said.

Ms Walsh says we need to think differently about how and what we eat.

She said: "In Ireland we're spoilt for choice and all the in-season fruits and vegetables offer something special. For example, broccoli can provide us with 100% of our vitamin C needs for the day and asparagus provides nearly the reference intake for folic acid. 

"For many of us eating local produce can help us eat healthily for ourselves, and sustainably for our grandkids future."

They want people to eat in-season produce too. Almost four in ten people buy the same fruit and vegetables in their weekly shop all year long. So, we are not only limiting our nutritional intake and limiting our choices, we are increasing emissions too.

This is because while eating fresh vegetables might seem like the right choice, however, if it has to be flown from Mexico, it cancels out the benefit to the environment.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Lorcan Bourke of Bord Bia says changing our habits could be good for consumers and good for the horticulture sector too. 

"It is really encouraging to see increased fresh produce consumption coming through in younger age groups," he said.

"As people continue to embrace the health benefits of eating locally-grown and seasonal fruit and veg, the market in Ireland could significantly increase just to meet current portion guidelines. However, as the research highlights, consumers are continuing to shop and eat fresh produce based on habit and this is holding people back from consuming more fruit and vegetable."

There is an economic benefit too. The sector is worth well over €1 billion a year to the Irish economy. That is based on what we currently eat.

If we increased our consumption of in-season fruit and vegetables to recommended levels, the benefit to the economy could almost double.

It is a source of frustration to many consumers that non-Irish grown vegetables seems to be dominant on the supermarket shelves, but often, retailers are trying to keep pace with consumer demands. 

Irish grown vegetables gets to our shelves quicker, so it is more nutritional. And, it stands to reason because it has less distance to travel, it should be cheaper.

Although labour costs in many of the countries from which we import make them extremely competitive in price terms. Countries with warmer climates, more suited to fruit and veg growing can flood the markets with produce, which makes it harder on the growers here.

RTÉ News spoke to one grower who farms 200 acres in north Dublin with his brothers. Denis Harford said that he is paid less now for his celery than he was paid ten years ago. 

If you want to start now, here's what’s in season at the moment:

Vegetables: New Season Queen Potatoes, asparagus, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, pak choi, parsnips, peas, rhubarb and turnip.

Salad Vegetables: Celery, courgette, cucumber, lettuces, peppers, radish, scallions, tomatoes.

Fruit: Strawberries and raspberries.