Russia has a strong position as a market for Norwegian fish. Herring in particular is a product which has had a strong place in traditional Russian food, writes Irene Midling Andreassen for Nofima. This project has focused on herring as a food item and has studied if the use of this product has changed in line with the dramatic development which has taken place in Russia.
Many different groups studied
Scientists have carried out several studies over a three-year period, comparing rich and poor, young and old and men and women. Groups with different levels of education and income, from different geographic areas and from cities of different sizes have also been studied.
Viewed from an overall perspective, it does not appear the huge upheavals in Russia have had a major influence on consumer habits when it comes to food. However, it appears that younger people are in the process of developing different consumption patterns than their parents and grandparents' generation.
Herring has a traditional place
Herring is a reasonably traditional product. Food traditions remain strong in Russia, and herring is an ingredient in several Russian light meals. Young people are eating out more, and they prefer easier meals and food from other cultures. However, this is a long-term trend and reduced income among large sectors of the population has slowed the rate of development of this new trend.
Little focus on food and health
Food and health is not as important for Russian consumers as is the case in many other countries. In general, it appears Russian consumers have a relatively low level of knowledge about the connection between food and health despite the low life expectancy, which results to a high degree from an unhealthy diet. However, it appears that the higher socio-economic group is focusing more on the food's naturalness and significance for health.
More detailed information is available in the report "Consumer preferences undergoing change? Russia as a market". Enclosed (in Norwegian language only)
This project is financed by the Research Council of Norway and the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund/FHL. Nofima Marked has had a close collaboration with the University of Wageningen in Netherlands. Another important contributor has been the reference group comprising members from FHL, Norwegian Fishermen's Sales Organisation for Pelagic Fish and the Norwegian Seafood Export Council.