In 2013, Norway ranked number 11 in the table for per capita seafood consumption, but in recent years seafood consumption in the country has fallen throughout the population, especially among the young.
Norwegians still eat 140 seafood meals (as surveyed) per year, which is well above the European average. As many as 94% of Norwegian households put seafood in their shopping cart at least once in 2017.
There has nevertheless been a striking decline in seafood consumption, with home consumption having fallen by 22% since 2013. Consumption is falling across all age groups, and during the last five years, home consumption among those under 34 years of age has gone down by approximately 50%.
Reasons for choosing seafood
In the ”Norwegian Eating Facts” (IPSOS) survey, Norwegians cite, among other things, health, cost, natural ingredients and Norwegian origin as important factors when buying food (across all food types).
IPSOS selected a representative group of 1,400 people to keep a diary of the dinners in their household for one week. According to these dinner diaries, almost 50% of meals belong to a fixed repertoire – i.e. a dish they usually make. Typical everyday drivers of purchase are “value for money”, “no time”, “health” and “children’s needs”. According to the dinner diaries, 46% of meals are planned on the same day.
When consumers are asked to give their main reasons for choosing seafood, they say “taste” and “health”. On the other hand, fewer people mention “quick” or “easy”, especially in the last two years. This does not mean that existing products have become more difficult or more time-consuming to prepare. It is rather because preparing dinner quickly and easily is now becoming even more important for consumers, and that seafood is not perceived to include products that meet these criteria. According to ”Norwegian Eating Facts” (IPSOS), almost 50% of people reported that they spent a maximum of 30 minutes on a weekday dinner, whilst 35% state that they attach particular importance to food being quick and easy to prepare.
In a Kantar TNS survey, health, wellness, omega-3 oils and Norwegian origin are specified as positive attributes for seafood. The same survey lists things such as price, smell, bone, dullness, lack of inspiration and difficulty of preparation as negatives.
According to SSB [Statistics Norway], fish is one of the food sources that has increased most in terms of the consumer index price: in recent years fish has increased by 30%, while meat has only increased by 2%. Last year, meat prices fell (-2%) while fish prices increased by 9%. Salmon is the species that has increased most in price, so much of the drop in salmon consumption can be attributed to this.
In summary, seafood consumption responds positively to factors such as health, wellness and Norwegian origin, while high prices, poor selection of convenient products, lack of inspiration and insufficient knowledge of how to prepare seafood are perceived as barriers. Consumers therefore want more healthy “convenience products”, i.e. products that are simple and quick to prepare. This corresponds to the trend in most of Europe.
Salmon is most popular, but not necessarily the most eaten
When Norwegians are asked about what kind of fish they prefer for weekday dinners, salmon is by far the most popular species and has been so for the last three years. It is interesting, however, that salmon only amounts to approximately 15% of total home consumption, while cod accounts for 15%, trout 2%, coalfish 1% and shrimp 9%. Most actual seafood consumption consists of processed products made with other fish – such as fish cakes, fish gratin and fish sticks. This preference indicates that Norwegians want to eat fish, preferably salmon, cod or trout, but in reality they eat products that are quick and simple to prepare.
Salmon also comes out on top when it comes to weekend meals and restaurant choices. At weekends, halibut and shrimp also climb up the list and catfish is a popular choice in restaurants. Figures from Flesland’s market research indicates growth for whitefish in the catering market in 2017, especially for cod/skrei and halibut. Shrimp have also seen an increase in the catering market.
Kantar TNS has mapped a number of eating scenarios across age, life situation and life stage to see where there is greatest potential for increasing consumption. Here, dinner stands out across all age groups. This does not mean that there is no potential for increasing seafood consumption in other eating situations, but these would require much higher output. At dinner, the demand already exists, but people choose other options for the reasons given above.
Where do we shop?
Norwegians buy seafood mostly from the supermarket and convenience store. This goes for all kinds of seafood. Cod and shrimp are the most frequently purchased species in more traditional channels. Around 10% of Norwegian households have purchased seafood using traditional channels over the last year, but the trend is going down.
Norwegians state that they want to buy seafood at Rema 1000 and the Norwegian Group, and this tallies well with where they actually make their purchases. Rema 1000, Meny and Kiwi have the highest market share in Norway. When respondents are asked why they purchase seafood at these stores, the most common responses are: “That is where I usually shop” and “It is near home or work”. This indicates that it is important to make seafood available at all stores, not just large stores that are far from home or work. People do not have time to travel to a specific store just to purchase seafood.