Fruits de mer off the menu in France

this french fish

THE popular perception of France as a nation with an insatiable appetite for almost everything that comes out of the sea has suffered a setback.
A new survey published today shows that the French are among the lowest consumers of seafood in Europe and way below some of their near neighbours. Surprisingly, only a third of French people eat fish twice a week or more.
The study was carried out jointly by the Norwegian Seafood Council and the market research organisation Kantar TNS over a week-long period at the beginning of June.
Portugal leads the pack, with 75 per cent of its people eating the recommended diet of two or more seafood meals a week, followed by Norway at 71 per cent, Spain at 67 per cent, and Japan at 60 per cent.
In fact, France is second to last at 34 per cent, behind Italy at 48 per cent, the United States at 38 per cent, but ahead of Germany at 31 per cent. The study says that average French consumption has been declining since 2011.
But the survey also shows that the French are looking for higher quality seafood and shoppers are warming to farmed fish.
Scottish farmed salmon won coveted Label Rouge accreditation more than 25 years ago, and today 31 per cent of French consumers say they would ‘happily buy farmed fish’, which is five per cent up since 2016.
The report says: ‘The total picture shows that the perception of quality in seafood among French consumers seems to be on the rise, and that also farmed seafood has brighter days ahead.
‘Many factors are combining to make seafood consumption move in the right direction again in France.
‘However, the price level keeps coming up as one of the reasons why people don’t buy more seafood; and in this context it is good news that at least farmed seafood is now considered as good value for money, combined with the fact that perceptions of aquaculture are steadily improving.’
Health is also a major consideration and a growing number of French are saying they want to exchange meat based meals for fish.
Maria Grimstad de Perlinghi, director France at the Norwegian Seafood Council, was upbeat about the future, pointing out that France was now becoming a trendsetter in seafood consumption.
She said: ‘In our rapidly changing world, where new technology is allowing immediate access to information, consumer perceptions, expectations and choices are evolving at high speed.
‘All of a sudden, consumers are starting to ask whether their seafood is produced in an environmentally friendly way, or whether the fish was treated with respect.’


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