A new study by Sainsbury’s into fish consumption and attitudes in the UK shows a shift in consumer-buying habits as more and more people purchase lesser known, alternative fish that are more abundant in our oceans.
Following a year of awareness campaigns of sustainable fish, including Sainsbury’s own ‘Switch the Fish’ initiative, a shift in fish buying habits has resulted in sales increasing across species including:
• Sea Bass +57%
• Fresh Pollack +15%
• Trout +29%
• Tilapia +117%
The ‘Our Future with Fish’ report, commissioned by Sainsbury’s and produced by the Future Foundation, predicts that this trend is set to continue as consumers make more informed and sustainable choices around the fish they eat.
By 2030 over half (52%) of all fish products sold will be outside of the UK’s most popular big five species (cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns).
The report also reveals that the population will be eating more fish, with UK adults set to eat 12 extra fish meals a year by 2030, increasing their weekly consumption by 17% (from under eight million kilograms today to 9.23 million kilograms by 2030).
The so-called tradition ‘Fish Friday’ is set to continue as meals have increased by 4.4% since 2008 and are predicted to rise from one-in-five today (21%) to one-in-four (25%) in the next 10 years.
The report found that one of the primary drivers for increasing UK fish consumption is personal well-being, with 51% of people stating that health concerns have encouraged them to eat more fish over the last year.
However the report also identified some of the key barriers to current fish consumption levels in the UK, these include a lack of recipe knowledge (35%), lack of availability of fresh fish in local shops (28%) and lack of time to prepare fish from scratch (28%).
Ally Dingwall, Sainsbury’s aquaculture and fisheries manager, said: “It is great to see more people broadening their minds and appetites by buying and cooking currently less familiar seafood. Doing so will help ensure we have sustainable supplies of this healthy, low-fat protein to eat in the future.
“We want to encourage more consumers to vary the fish and seafood in their diet which is why we commissioned the report to build on our existing knowledge, to better understand why our customers have the current preferences they do and to look ahead at the future of fish being eaten in the UK.
“At Sainsbury’s we recognise the important role retailers have to play to continue the debate and interest in sustainable, alternative fish choices. That is why we invest in campaigns such as ‘Switch the Fish’, which help our customers make informed choices about the fish they buy and attempt to break down the key barriers that prevent consumers eating fish regularly.”
Minster for the natural environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon MP said: “As the UK fisheries minister, my day to day work is focused on safeguarding our natural marine environment for future generations to enjoy. The UK is leading the way internationally to make sure that our seas and fish stocks stay healthy, and I’m delighted to see Sainsbury’s hard work has resulted in a demonstrable change in consumer behaviour.
“There is still important work to do in Europe to mend the broken common fisheries policy, which has contributed to the depleted state of our fish stocks. Fixing it means we will have a secure supply of fish as a healthy food source, without destroying fish stocks and damaging the marine environment.
“It’s great to see Sainsbury’s encouraging shoppers to adjust their individual behaviour and broaden their tastes away from the main five species of fish which are under such environmental pressure. Fish like dab and coley are just as delicious as some of the more well-known species.”