Europeans look for familiarity in farmed fish
On the surface, the European consumer’s relationship with aquaculture appears more of a marriage of convenience than a great love affair; farmed fish generally bridges the gap that exists between indigenous wild species and less-expensive center-of-plate proteins like chicken and pork. But while it’s true that fish farming provides Europeans with affordable means to access seafood, deep-rooted cultural familiarity is also driving sales.
The Iglo Foods Group, Europe's leading branded frozen food business, has found that pangasius and tilapia are growing evermore successful due to their appealing fillet size and flexibility in recipe development. However, the group’s extensive market insight has also established that the geographical location of European consumers and their farmed species flavor preferences are inter-related.
“Inland or landlocked countries and their consumers are more willing to accept fish flavor profiles that are more ‘freshwater-biased than sea-fresh or neutral,’” says Peter Hajipieris, Iglo’s chief technical, sustainability and external affairs officer. “This is a key point in deciding which species to supply in a market. So pangasius and tilapia are proving to be more acceptable in such [inland] places rather than those markets whose consumers are used to supplies of wild-caught, sea-fresh flavors.”
Furthermore, he says that if a species has a “weedy overtone” it’s a challenge for consumers to choose such fish over wild or farmed species originating from free-flowing, free-standing sea cages.
Catfish is one of the top 10 dollar-contributing sub-categories to the seafood department. Nationally, catfish accounted for 3.7 percent of seafood department sales during the 52 weeks ending April 28, 2012, down less than a percentage point. However, dollar contribution varied greatly by region, with catfish accounting for 6.3 percent of the Central region’s department sales, while contributing only 1.3 percent in the Eastern region. Contribution was higher than the national average in the South, accounting for 5 percent of seafood department sales. The variation in department contribution showed how regionally driven catfish sales were during the past year.Click here to read the full story which ran in the August issue of SeaFood Business magazine >