The Norwegian consumption seafood continues to decline, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council, but are soaring prices to blame?
Consumption of fish and shellfish in Norway continues to decline, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council, but at the same time seafood prices have soared in recent years making quality home-caught seafood less affordable for the ordinary working person.
Since 2015, seafood consumption in Norway has been decreasing, with a small exception in the pandemic year 2021. According to new figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council, in the past two decades, seafood consumption has never been lower than it is now.
In 2003, the average seafood consumption per person in the country was 21.22 kilograms. Last year, the figure was 18.96 kilograms, indicating a decrease of nearly 11 percent (10.65), based on calculations from Flesland Market Information.
The reasons for Norwegians’ declining seafood consumption are complex. Lack of knowledge about preparation, time constraints, and availability may explain part of it. However, the price increase must also take a considerable share of the blame.
“We see that seafood products that have the most significant price increases are the ones people buy less,” says Christian Chramer, the managing director of the Seafood Council.
Nevertheless, the sales of more affordable seafood products have increased recently. This suggests that people still want to consume fish, according to Chramer. A survey from the Seafood Council also indicates that as many as 7 out of 10 Norwegians want to eat more fish.
To estimate the amount of seafood consumed, turnover data from wholesalers and suppliers provided by Flesland Market Information are used. This provides an overview of the total amount of seafood sold to stores, restaurants, and institutional buyers, measured in product weight. However, these measurements do not account for waste or uneaten fish due to various reasons. Consequently, the consumption figures may be lower than estimated.
Quantity vs. Frequency
To get an idea of seafood consumption, one can also look at the frequency of consumption, i.e., how often people eat seafood.
A new international survey conducted by Ipsos for the Seafood Council supports the mentioned consumption figures: Norwegians are not particularly good at eating fish as often as they should. Only 4 out of 10 say they eat fish or other seafood as often as recommended by health authorities. This is slightly below the international average.
In most countries, the recommendations call for eating fish at least two to three times a week.
Portuguese top the list of fish eaters. Here, over 7 out of 10 people say they eat seafood twice a week or more. Swedish people are second last on the list, just before Germany, with only 3 out of 10.
The Seafood Council’s survey was conducted three times during 2022 and includes a total of over 37,000 people in 16 countries worldwide, including Norway.
New Dietary Guidelines
New dietary guidelines are in the making for the countries in the Nordic and Baltic regions. These new guidelines take both climate and health benefits into account, as foods that are good for health are also generally beneficial for the planet.
“These new recommendations, which focus on both health and climate, provide Norwegians with better reasons to increase their seafood consumption,” says Christian Chramer.
The new dietary guidelines maintain recommendations for higher fish consumption: People should eat 300-450 grams of fish and seafood weekly, with 200 grams of it preferably being fatty fish like salmon, trout, herring, or mackerel.
A standard dinner portion of fish weighs around 150 grams, depending on the type of fish and fillet size.
“Using fish as a sandwich topping is also an excellent way to consume fish,” Chramer adds.
A standard serving of fish spread weighs around 25-40 grams.