Baby boomers 'will boost' sales of fish as they age
August 07 2012 Lewis Smith
Sainsbury's Switch the Fish campaign persuaded customers to try alternatives to the UK 'big five'
Fish consumption is expected to rise significantly as the baby-boom generation hits retirement age, a study has found.
Older people, on average, eat more fish than the younger generations and as the bigger cohorts of the baby-boomers head towards their 60s the quantity consumed will rise.
Fish consumption has already risen two per cent per person since 1975 but by 2030 it is expected to increase by a further four per cent, the report by the Future Foundation forecasts.
With the adult population eating on average an additional 12 fish meals a year the total annual consumption of fish in the UK is forecast to rise 17 per cent from 410,000 tonnes to 480,000 tonnes by 2030.
The authors of the report, Our Future with Fish commissioned by Sainsbury, said an “important factor as we move through to 2030” will be the demographic shift towards an older UK population: “The acceleration begins dramatically from around 2015 as the UK’s ‘baby-boom’ generation starts to turn 60.
“This forecast represents a four per cent increase in fish consumption for each person by 2030,” said the authors in the report, Our Future with Fish commissioned by Sainsbury.
“Much of this is down to the ageing profile of the population, with the percentage of UK adults who are aged over 65 set to rise from 21 per cent in 2012 to 27 per cent in 2030.
“But we must also account for the expected growth in the UK adult population. This is set to rise from 51.4 million in 2012 to 57.8 million by 2030. So the overall weekly consumption of fish in the UK will rise from around 8,000 metric tonnes a year in 2012, to around 9,200 metric tonnes by 2030.”
The authors said that as consumption rises the trend away from the ‘big five’ fish eaten in the UK – tuna, salmon, cod, haddock and prawns – will become more pronounced.
A survey for the report found that consumers are showing a greater willingness to experiment with alternative types of fish, particularly plaice, trout, mackerel, herring, Pollock, monkfish and coley. There are many species, however, that the vast majority of consumers have never tried, such as pouting which only ten per cent have tasted and megrim which has been tried by only eight per cent of adults.
Nevertheless, the authors identified “increasingly cosmopolitan attitudes” among consumers which is “a fundamental driver of uptake for alternative fish”.
Analysis of Sainsbury sales of fish in 2010 and 2011 showed more “alternative choices” are being made and the authors forecast that from having a 34.7 per cent share of all fish products sold today, alternative fish choices will account for just over half of fish products sold in 2030.
“Eating a wider range of fish will help take pressure off the most popular fish stocks. With more people on the planet than ever, we need to develop broader buying habits. Increasingly choosing alternative fish with sustainable, long-term fishery management regimes means we can make more available for everyone while caring for the future well-being of fish supplies,” they said.
In 2011 sea bass sales at Sainsbury rose 57 per cent, Pollock by 15 per cent, trout by 29 per cent and tilapia by 117 per cent.
Ally Dingwall, Aquaculture and Fisheries manager for Sainsbury, 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.”
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