Research by the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) highlights promising global shift towards plastic-free seafood in retail
Research by the Norwegian Seafood Council highlights promising global shift towards plastic-free seafood in retail
A recent international study conducted by the Norwegian Seafood Council, surveying 15,000 consumers across 15 countries, highlights that 60% of consumers across the globe avoid buying fish that comes wrapped in plastic.
This figure is even higher in many countries like Thailand (77%) and China (76%) – while seven out of 10 believe it is important that seafood comes in recyclable packaging. Despite this, and the clear impact plastic has on the planet, the majority (60%) say it is often difficult to know if fish and seafood packaging can be recycled.
Lark Moksness, consumer analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council comments, “Our research indicates that more could be done to educate shoppers on the materials their fish is packaged in. There’s a clear desire from consumers to be ‘doing more’ and changing behaviours where packaging is concerned. Minimising plastic usage – especially single use plastics which are so often used in food packaging – is one of the simplest ways of creating a more sustainable future.”
Globally, plastic waste is a huge issue. According to the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) we produce about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Approximately 36% of all plastics produced are used in packaging, including single-use plastic products for food and beverage containers.
A contradiction between consumer attitudes and overall plastic production
Looking deeper into the statistics on a country-by-country level, it’s apparent that there is an interesting conflict between industry and consumer demands. Take the top ten plastic producing countries, as featured on worldpopulationreview.com, and compare the surveyed attitudes from key markets for the Norwegian Seafood Council; the United States, China, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan.
Across 11 of the 15 markets studied, at least six out of 10 consumers say they try to avoid buying fish and seafood wrapped in plastic. China tops this with 76% which is in stark contrast to the overall figures attributed to China’s production of plastic waste (12.2m tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in 2021). A pattern that is seen across the top ten plastic waste producing countries – Germany being an example of this, producing 81.16kg of waste per capita per year, yet at least 70% of shoppers here look to avoid plastic wrapped products. With the UK stating 58% avoiding plastic wrapped produce, yet as a country produce 98.66kg of plastic waste per capita per year.
Whilst there are strong statistics highlighting consumer concern about plastics on their seafood purchases, it’s certainly not universal. Sweden, Norway and Japan – all known as big fish-eating nations – are at the bottom of the table. In Sweden, just 35% of consumers are looking to avoid seafood wrapped in plastic, dropping to 31% among Norwegians, and a survey-low of just 17% in Japan.
Focusing on a plastic-free future
Lars Moksness, consumer analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council comments: “Over recent decades, we have quickly adapted to living throwaway lifestyles. However, climate change and issues with plastic waste have thankfully made their way to the top of world leader’s agendas.
“Consumers are recognising the impact their daily lives have on the planet – something that increasingly applies to their food choices and their fish choices. We’ve seen a positive rise in people thinking about where their fish comes from. And now they are also considering the packaging their seafood comes in – with many trying to avoid plastic-wrapped fish and seafood and seeking out recycled options.
“For someone who works alongside the seafood industry, with a deep passion for environmental change, this is extremely promising. However, changing consumer behaviour at scale can be immensely challenging. We have seen in recent years the increasing desire for convenience, yet with this has come a higher dependence on single use plastics.
“We need a multi-pronged solution. One that sees a greater focus on providing a holistic view on sustainability. From distributors to retailers, to communicators and consumers, we all need to assess our need for plastic usage. As our survey suggests, consumer desire to change is growing, it’s all pointing in the right direction, and we encourage industries to take hold of this, and work towards a greener future together.”
The Norwegian Seafood Council is committed to educating consumers across the globe about the nutritional benefits and sustainability credentials associated with choosing seafood from Norway – a country where sustainability is at the heart of everything it does.
Source: Press Release