Consumer Focused Review of the Finfish Food Chain

Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-905767-22-9


As a considerable period of time has passed since our Consumer Focused Reviews were published, safefood wishes to revisit each of these in order to update their content. This will ensure consumers on the island of Ireland (IOI) are informed of any changes that have come about since 2005. As for the previous Finfish CFR, this review of the fish food chain focuses on caught and farmed finfish, and smoked salmon. 

Key Findings

  • graphic of a fishing boatThere has been an increase in the frequency of consumption of fish since 2005. In 2010 fifty nine per cent of consumers reported eating fish once a week or more, whereas in 2005 this figure was forty eight per cent.
  • Market research showed that the reported frequency of consumption increased for all fish types including fresh white and fresh oily fish, tinned fish and fish in batter. The proportion of people who said that they never eat fish remained unchanged at one in five (18%).
  • Key consumer concerns for 2005 and 2010 were freshness of fish, pollutants, contaminants, food poisoning and correct defrosting procedures for fish.There was a reduction in concern about how fish is cooked, the use of dyes and labelling over the past few years, while the issue of fish stocks and mercury awareness was a greater concern in 2010 than it was in 2005.
  • In 2005 and 2010, consumers were found to have a high overall confidence in the safety of fish and deemed it safer than fresh meat.
  • In 2005, 49 per cent and 42 per cent of consumers considered fish to either a ‘very healthy food’ or a ‘healthy food’, respectively. This increased to 62 per cent and 31 per cent respectively in 2010.
  • Barriers to fish consumption were the smell and appearance of whole fish, the presence of bones, childhood memories of eating fish, taste, freshness and display of fish, price and processing.
  • For the general population, health professionals recommend that consumers should eat two portions of fish per week, one being an oily fish. Where possible fresh fish should be chosen over processed.
  • The health benefits of fish are well documented particularly in relation to heart health. Much recent media focus has been on the cognitive benefits of fish and fish oils, although this remains to be scientifically substantiated.