26 percent of French people consume seafood products once a week, 34 percent, 2 to 3 times a month, and just 3 percent not at all. Salmon is the most consumed fish, and most popular with French people is Norwegian salmon, (43%), followed by fish from Scotland and France.
These were some of the results of a study by the Norwegian Seafood Centre on the consumption of seafood products in France in 2016, carried out by TNS Sofres. The objective of this study was to generate a deeper knowledge of fish consumption and consumer behavior in France, reports Agro Media France.
Health and taste
Health is the main reason for consuming seafood for nearly 73% of French consumers. Taste is the second motivation (66%), followed by simplicity of preparation (45%) and the fact that seafood products constitute a light and balanced diet (33%).
For 90% of French people, the origin of the product is decisive at the point of purchase (+4% compared to 2015). The study thus highlights a strong trend that has persisted for several years in most European countries: the growing demand for and interest of consumers in the origin of the products they buy.
In France, seafood products, including smoked salmon, are generally purchased in supermarkets and hypermarkets, regardless of species. There is a very rich and differentiated supply of smoked salmon in supermarkets, and this presentation of products is much less available in other outlets than fresh fish and seafood.
Pre-packaged products not very popular
With nine out of ten seafood consumers not wanting to buy pre-packaged products, this is a real barrier to market growth in France. Consumers have come to understand that pre-packaged fish is very easy and quick to prepare and therefore offers the same benefits as other pieces of fresh fillets. However, it appears that pre-packaged seafood has limited success in France, as the survey shows that sales of pre-packaged seafood products have not increased very much.
Norway is the most popular source of salmon, preferred by French consumers (43%), followed by Scotland (28%) and France (8%). This information is all the more remarkable when considering that consumers tend to prefer their own country of origin to another, especially when the different origins of the products are little known.
In 2016, sushi was the second favorite fish dish in France (17%). 22% of French people consume it at least once a month. Most of these consumers are between 20 and 44 years of age. Location is also an important factor: 40% of Parisians consume sushi at least once a month.
Reassurance on the quality of farmed fish
Although France is one of the largest consumers of farmed fish in Europe, the study revealed that there are many myths and negative opinions about aquaculture. However, fish farming is also cited as one of the future solutions for feeding people on our planet.
In an open-ended question about French consumers’ perception of Norway as a country, many respondents spoke about seafood and nature. One consumer, for example, said: “Norway is a cold country with superior water quality and a wide range of fish to offer.”
Still a lot of work to do
Through this study, it has become clear that even though France is an important market for seafood products, and their consumption is above the European average, there is still much to be done to develop the market.
French consumers are demanding and do not seem to be very satisfied with the existing range of seafood products. They always aim for good quality, adequate product information – at a price they find acceptable. It is clear that producers, distributors and all those who work with seafood products must join forces to propose the options that consumers demand, the study concludes.