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AquacultureUK2016: What Can We Do to Raise the UK's Fish Consumption?

9 June 2016, at 1:00am

UK - UK home fish consumption is falling and with the younger generation buying the least amount of fish, it is important that we find better more innovative ways to market and sell fish.

UK home consumption of fish has declined from around 170 g per person per week in 2006 to 144 g per person per week in 2012, revealed Dr Martin Jaffa, from Callander McDowell, speaking at Aquaculture UK 2016.

Salmon sales are still fairly stable. The biggest decline has been in white fish sales, Dr Jaffa explained.

Looking at where the decline in consumption lies, the biggest fish consumers are in the 45-54 age group. The next biggest is the over 54's. Worryingly, the lowest consumption is with the under 45's - the younger generations.

The smell, bones , high price (compared to other meats) and lack of knowledge about how to cook or what to do with it, were highlighted as some of the common reasons for the low consumption in the under 45 age group.

This age group tends to have young families to feed and less time to prepare meals. Instead they want convenience, said Dr Jaffa.

The younger generation has also grown up with supermarkets and convenience and pre-made products. Whereas the older generations were used to growing up buying meat and fish fresh from the local butchers or fishmongers. They also knew more about cooking things fresh.

Dr Jaffa went on to make the valid point that if, when the under 45's reach 45 they do not suddenly decide to start eating more fish, then we are likely to see huge consumption declines.

So what can we do to raise consumption?

Firstly, we need the focus to be back on promoting fish. A lot of media attention today is around sustainability and so the focus has been deflected away from promoting fish consumption, said Dr Jaffa.

Fish needs to be made easy, simple to prepare, convenient and a good value for money product.

We therefore need to produce innovative products which meet these needs, said Dr Jaffa.

The positioning/location of fish within supermarkets also needs a re-think. Fish should be strategically positioned with the convenience products and the other meats, such as beef and chicken, so that people actually see it.

Some products have already started to innovate and are doing well, for example the Saucy Fish company, however their products need to be placed with the other meats.

We need to bring fish out of the fish counter and onto the shelf, explained Dr Jaffa.

Price is also a big driver of fish purchase and so must be addressed.

According to data from Mintel, it is all about price. Price was the biggest determining factor for buying fish followed by nutrition and then sustainability.

A drop in the price of fish back in 2013, due to high volumes on sale, correlated with an increase in UK home consumption. Then, when the prices went back up, the consumption dropped again.

This spike in consumption alongside lower prices shows the importance of price in purchasing decisions.

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