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Russian women are changing their food habits

NORWAY - Russian women are following after their "fellow sisters" in the West. Everyday life is becoming increasingly hectic, and there is less time to prepare traditional food. This can lead to a greater demand for fast food and ready-made food.

Researching food habits in Russia
Twenty-one women from Moscow, in the age groups under 30 and over 50, have been interviewed by scientists from Fiskeriforskning. This first study has generally looked at how meals in Russia are changing, but also wants to discover herring's place in food choices.

Herring needs to become "modern"
All of the interview subjects said that they like herring, but are choosing it less frequently as dinner food. The Russians still use herring today, but mostly as supper, snacks and in social gatherings.

- If herring is going to maintain its market position in Russia, focus must be directed towards "modern foods" such as sushi, as well as healthy foods and fast meals. The time it takes to prepare food from scratch means that finished products and semi-finished goods can be in greater demand in the future.

- But most of the women say that they are still sceptical of ready-made food because of their suspicion of additives. However, there is relatively little knowledge about what is healthy and unhealthy amongst the women, says Project Manager Pirjo Honkanen.

New times - new food habits
Younger women in Moscow seem to be spending less time on traditional food and often choose new and international dishes. Many also have long ways to travel and several jobs, which result in less time to prepare food.

The older women say that they use more time on meals during the weekends, not unlike Norway. Several of the younger women prefer to eat their main meals like lunch and dinner at cafés or restaurants throughout the week.

- It could also be wise to focus on alternative sales channels for herring, such as cafés and restaurants, says project collaborator Gøril Voldnes.

We know little
- Little research has been done on the food habits of Russian consumers, so we know little about how the food habits in Russia have changed, says Honkanen.

- Focus on health and weight seems to be strong in both age groups, and additives in food are brought out as negative. Imported foods in particular were perceived to contain harmful substances, the scientists say in closing.

However, Moscow is not representative for the rest of the country. This preliminary study provides background information for further study. In the spring of 2007, the scientists will continue with a larger study of the food habits of consumers in Moscow and in another smaller city. The project will span three years and is financed by the Ministry of Fishery and Coastal Affairs and the Aquaculture Industry Research Fund.

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