Consumers Eating More Fish?

January 02, 2012

How much fish are consumers eating? What are their concerns about this omega-3 rich food, and what can your store do to boost sales? Find out the results of our recent survey.

Last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) published a joint report, which urged governments to improve their efforts emphasizing the benefits of eating seafood; specifically for brain and heart health. The American diet came under the most scrutiny in the report, as fish is especially lacking on our dinner plates - on average providing only about seven percent of animal protein versus 25 percent in Asian countries. So how much fish are consumers eating this year, and have they increased their consumption? The Lempert Report surveyed the SupermarketGuru consumer panel to find out.

Just under half of the consumer panel (46 percent) has increased the amount of fish in their diet in the past year; while 39 percent say the amount of fish they eat has stayed the same. Those who answered yes to eating more fish in the past year have done so because ‘it’s healthy’ (20 percent), ‘love the taste’ (12 percent), are ‘eating less meat (or other protein) and switching to fish' (18 percent), and to increase ‘Omega’ intake (10 percent).

Where are consumers shopping or enjoying their fish? Thirty-one percent say they are buying more fresh fish and cooking at home while 17 percent of respondents are buying frozen filets for home cooking, and 12 percent are ordering fish more often when eating out.

When asked how they prefer their fish prepared, the majority (36 percent) prefer their fish grilled or baked. 

Are consumers clued in about the general environmental impacts of consuming certain fish and fish products? The majority of the panel (54 percent) ‘sometimes’ avoid certain fish for environmental reasons, 27 percent ‘always’ avoid certain fish, and 14 percent ‘never’ or don't know why you would avoid certain fish for environmental reasons.
When asked about farm-raised versus wild, 48 percent 'sometimes' and 32 percent 'always' purchase wild fish, which may be an indication that consumers are clued into resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (, which informs consumers about the best choices in fish including which are best purchased farmed and or wild.

A substantial amount of the consumer panel is reading the fine print, as 47 and 27 percent respectively say they always or sometimes avoid fish that contains added colors.

Supermarkets, CPGs and the food industry in general needs to step up the fish promotion efforts while keeping sustainability and health in mind. Consumers are clued in, but clearly need advice, suggestions and reinforcement. As demonstrated by the quick poll results, consumers prefer to cook their fish at home. Providing cooking instructions and menu suggestions would help increase consumption and therefore purchases. Promote sustainable and healthy fish consumption to your customers!