Study: Majority of Brits want to eat more seafood

Just one-third of U.K. consumers eat the public health recommended two portions of fish per week, but 55 percent of adults would like to eat more seafood, finds a new study looking at attitudes and behaviors to seafood, commissioned by trade body Seafish.

According to the “State of the Nation” study, the 55-plus age group are almost twice as likely to be eating fish twice a week or more than the 18-24 age group. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the fish buying public think that sustainability is important and that telling consumers about the specific health benefits of fish would encourage more than 70 percent of them to eat more. However, just 36 percent of those people surveyed are actively buying sustainable seafood, with 13 percent buying sustainably-sourced products only.

Nineteen percent do not think about sustainability at all when buying fish.

It was also found that 38 percent feel that it is the retailers’ responsibility to sell sustainably sourced fish and not the shoppers’ responsibility to seek it out.

Of those adults consuming fish, 95 percent eat it at home, and 57 percent eat it out of the home, with tinned (61 percent) and battered fish (59 percent) proving the most popular choices, followed by breaded (50 percent) and natural, plain fillets (also 50 percent).

Sushi was consumed by 16 percent of the people surveyed, with a strong bias in the 24-45 age group, where 24 percent of people eat this type of seafood.

Seafish also learned that 44 percent of U.K. adults eat fish and chips once a month or more often, with cod (83 percent), haddock (60 percent) and scampi (20 percent) driving sales. Although it remains a popular choice, the analysis found that fish and chips is increasingly being considered a treat rather than a regular meal occasion.

“The State of the Nation project contains some of our most important research to date, helping us better understand U.K. consumers,” said Greg Smith, head of marketing at Seafish. “We know there’s still work to be done to get people eating more seafood, especially as two thirds of consumers aren’t following government health guidelines and eating two portions of fish a week, but it’s really encouraging to see that over half of consumers want to eat more. This work provides valuable insight into what really makes consumers tick when it comes to eating seafood, and can be used by industry to inform ongoing initiatives, which help positively impact consumption across the supply chain.”

The study highlights that seafood consumption in the United Kingdom has increased by 12 percent over the past year, contrasting with a fall in red meat sales, with health and enjoyment of fish supporting the growth. Furthermore, labeling whitefish as a source of omega-3 fatty acids encouraged 22 percent of consumers to purchase the products.

Price was the main reason for those people found to be eating less fish than before, with 49 percent of consumers wanting to see more money off deals on seafood. Several consumers also wanted to see more seafood sandwich and lunch options in takeaways and cafes.

Evaluating the other popular proteins, the study found that beef consumption has fallen 29 percent in the past year, citing the price of products and people trying to eat less red meat as the main reasons for this decline. Similarly, 28 percent of U.K. adults are eating less lamb and less pork, and 16 percent are eating less dairy.

Eighteen percent are eating more poultry, 20 percent are consuming more nuts and seeds, and 19 percent are eating more vegetarian foods than a year ago, with health reasons driving these increases.

Photo courtesy of Alena Veasey/Shutterstock


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