European fish consumption patchy

EUROPEANS are eating more fish but the growth in consumption has been limited, a leading marketing organisation reports.

EUMOFA (European Marketing Observatory for Fishery and Aquaculture Products) has released an analysis of EU consumer attitudes and habits regarding fisheries and aquaculture products in the European Union.

The main findings are that fish and seafood in general is being sold through large scale retail chains while consumption growth is also linked to greater product penetration.

EUMOFA also believes that consumption of farmed fish is likely to increase in the future, despite a stated preference for the wild variety.

It also found that age and social background determine consumption behaviour. Young consumers eat the least seafood, a trend that needs to be reversed if the sector is to thrive in the future, the organisation argues.

Most consumers said they wanted ‘date of catch or production’ mentioned on all fishery and aquaculture product labels.

And the study found that western EU countries, which includes the UK and Ireland, have a significant own supply both from fisheries and aquaculture, and consumption of these products was an important part of their culinary traditions.

‘Fish consumption is relatively high and consumption of products from aquaculture is trending upwards,’ said the report.

UK consumption has declined by 0.5 per cent, while in Germany, not generally regarded as a big fish eating country, it had gone up by 1.1 per cent thanks to improved marketing and the health message.

Meanwhile, another survey on EU consumer choice, this time by Eurobarometer, revealed that seafood consumption is increasing, with 42 per cent of Europeans now eating fish/aquaculture products at home at least once a week.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: ‘This survey helps us see how Europeans choose their seafood. This helps inform our policies.

‘We must make sure that consumers continue to have a wide range of high quality seafood to choose from. That is why we are determined to reach targets on sustainable fishing by 2020.’

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