UK poll: Young consumers need more seafood
By Nicki Holmyard, SeafoodSource contributing editor
21 August, 2012
The latest YouGov Sixth Sense poll examining the U.K. retail market for fish and seafood products found that while fish and seafood are an established part of consumers' diets and are recognized for their nutritious value and low fat content, product penetration still needs to be improved at the younger end of the market. It recommends that this factor be addressed, to ensure both future sales and the health of the nation.
The U.K. retail market for fish and seafood rose to GBP 2.89 billion in 2011, up from GBP 2.76 billion in 2010 and GBP 2.63 billion in 2009, in part driven by cost-driven increases in some sectors of the fish and seafood market.
The poll looked at a wide range of factors influencing seafood purchasing and consumption, as well as examining attitudes towards food, exercise and overall diet, and how these factors affect consumer choice. It also investigated comprehension of certification schemes to see if the population is aware of the sustainable seafood movement.
The poll found that around 25 percent of households serve chilled or frozen fish at least once per week, but what’s concerning is that around 20 percent never serve seafood. The ABC1 (upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class) demographic buys more chilled seafood, whilst C2DEs (skilled working class, working class, lowest subsistence levels) are more price sensitive and tend to head for the frozen cabinet, where frozen fish is perceived as offering better value for money.
Consumers who were asked what would encourage them to purchase more fish and seafood ranked price as the main factor, which the study felt might to some extent reflect the current economic climate and restricted budgets of many households.
Analysis of fish and seafood purchased in cans and jars found that consumers under 25 were the least likely to use this product format and that 48 percent of consumers never serve it. Only 20 percent claimed to use it at least once a week, giving cans and jars the lowest penetration level across all fish and seafood products. Of the products used, tuna is the most popular by far with a 78 percent penetration, followed by sardines at 38 percent, salmon at 31 percent and mackerel at 24 percent. One notable finding was that fish in brine has overtaken fish in oil as the preferred purchase, as consumers become more concerned about fat levels.
Questions about buying habits found that a significant minority are habitual shoppers for fish and seafood, buying the same products each time, with women and ABC1 consumers being the most adventurous in trying new products. Special offers were noted as a factor in encouraging the purchase of different seafood items.
Around one-fifth of consumers believe that a traditional fishmonger offers a better product selection than a supermarket fish counter, which is a factor being addressed by several major multiples and notably Morrisons, in the redesigning of its counters and product offerings.
With the exception of prawns, seafood was found to be served by a relatively small percentage of families, with a higher proportion of ABC1 respondents serving a wider variety of species to children. The favorite fish amongst the C2DE demographic is cod, which is available in a range of formats, including fish fingers and coated portions.
Lack of confidence in handling and cooking fish was given as a reason not to purchase seafood, with a significant minority opting to buy prepared products or to visit a restaurant, café or takeaway. For those eating out, fish and chips remains the most popular fish meal.
Familiarity with food labelling and certification schemes was examined, with some surprising results. Long-established terms such as “5 a day” (fruit and vegetables), “organic” and “fair trade” all scored highly in terms of knowing and understanding their meaning, and even “high in omega-3” was recognized by 77 percent of respondents. Terms such as “responsibly sourced,” “dolphin friendly” and “line caught” all scored 63 percent, but only 20 percent understood the Marine Stewardship Council logo and 14 percent Friend of the Sea. Fifty percent of respondents were completely unfamiliar with both of these eco-certification labels, which means the organizations still have an uphill struggle to achieve full market penetration.
21 August, 2012