On the average European fish consumption is below recommended levels

The SEAFOODplus project 2.1. CONSUMERSURVEY aims at explaining seafood consrumption in 5 European countries: Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland and Spain. Questionnaires were sent to a representative sample of consumers in each country; and a total of 4786 valid questionnaires were returned and analyzed. This note reports the first descriptive results from the survey. Later, analysis explaining the differences between countries and segments will be reported.


Authors: Pirjo Honkanen and Karen Brunsų


 The average fish consumption across the five countries was 1.2 times per week at home, while the consumption of fish outside home was about once a month. There are quite large differences in consumption between the countries, as illustrated in Figure 1. Fish is mainly consumed at home in all countries. Spain has by far the highest fish consumption with the average about 2.5 times a week, almost twice as often as Denmark, which had the second highest consumption. The Netherlands and Belgium had the lowest consumption rates, with a consumption frequency down to once a week on average. 


Figure 1 Fish consumption at home and out as times per week

In Belgium and The Netherlands, fresh fillet is the most popular product, while in Denmark and Poland it is canned fish. In Spain, people prefer whole fresh fish. A typical convenience product like pre-packed fresh fish is mostly consumed in Belgium and Netherlands.

Widespread confusion about consumption of wild or farmed fish

There seems to be widespread confusion among people in all countries about whether the fish they consume is actually wild or farmed. Results show large discrepancies in reported total fish consumption frequency (as in Figure 1) and reported consumption of wild and farmed fish as shown in table 1.


It seems, however, that the confusion about wild and farmed fish increases with age (data not shown), since the reported consumption of wild fish decreases with increasing age, which is the opposite trend compared to reported overall fish consumption. The data shows that on average the consumption of fish increases with increasing age in all countries except Poland where differences in consumption frequencies were not significant across age groups. The finding of increasing fish consumption as age increases confirms earlier European studies of fish consumption.


 Huge differences regarding preferences for fish species

 The preference for fish species varies quite a lot between the countries as shown in Figure 2. In Belgium, cod and salmon are the most frequently consumed species, while the Danish seem to prefer herring and tuna. In The Netherlands, tuna and salmon are most frequently eaten, in Poland it is herring and mackerel. Finally, in Spain, tuna and hake are preferred. Herring seems to be most popular among the older consumers, while tuna was most often eaten by the youngest.