Despite the seafood industry having an estimated worth of $257 billion in 2022  seafood consumption trends vary significantly around the world. Whilst some countries depend on seafood to sustain their economies and as a diet staple, others barely eat or produce any seafood at all.
According to the United Nations, we need to produce 70% more food to meet dietary needs in 2050. Land-based agriculture cannot meet these requirements alone, we need to look to alternatives. Sustainably sourced seafood can play a big part in helping to meet this demand. With the additional health benefits that increasing seafood consumption in our diets can bring, it’s evident that we need to make room for blue in a green diet.
Said Martin Skaug, director of communications, Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC): “In just 30 years from now, it’s been predicted that the world’s growing population will need about 70 per cent more food than we currently produce to feed everyone. This growth will need to come from the seas. It has been estimated that the oceans, if managed responsibly, can provide up to six times more food than it does today. That means we need to eat more of these so-called blue foods, and that we need to choose sustainable options when doing so.
“The cold, clear waters of Norway are brimming with bountiful stocks of species such as cod, haddock and mackerel, and Norway is a leading nation in responsibly managed aquaculture. These fish are responsibly managed, responsibly caught and responsibly delivered to our plates. Norway’s fish and seafood producers work hard to reassure customers that their fish is traceable, sustainable and of the very best quality. In fact, everything Norwegian seafood producers do has sustainability at its heart.”
Projects undertaken across Europe in the last year by the NSC, demonstrates how people and communities can make a difference through their actions and choices by ‘thinking global, and acting local’.
Fiskesprell in Norway provides an early entry point to seafood consumption and cooking in kindergartens
In Norway, a study executed by Ipsos on behalf of the NSC, revealed that as much as 80 percent of children are currently not eating the 2-3 portions of seafood per week, as recommended by national nutritional guidelines.
To understand what initiatives Norway is carrying out to tackle this problem, Home Economist Kate Snow, who works with the UK Government on the EATWELL Programme and teaches the food group section of the national curriculum across the UK, last year visited Norway to attend a Fiskesprell course in Sjøskogbekken FUS kindergarten at Ranheim outside Trondheim.
Fiskesprell is a joint project between the Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Norwegian Seafood Council and the Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organization. The project follows the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s recommendations regarding diet, which emphasises that an increase in the consumption of fish and other seafood is beneficial from a health perspective, especially amongst children and adolescents.
Said Kate: “This has been an exciting opportunity to see the Fiskesprell concept firsthand. It’s a fantastic idea, as educating children from an early age and making them feel involved in cooking is key to getting them to enjoy their food. It was inspiring to see how the children contributed. Over the course of three hours, chef Rune Sandø introduced curious four and five-year-old children to the main fish species and taught them to cut vegetables and make fish fingers.
“I have brought the whole concept back with me to the UK. I’ve even introduced a geography section into lesson plans so that pupils can get an understanding of where Norway is, and the connection the country has to the UK.”
UK pilots a multi-touchpoint campaign to encourage trial and education of sustainably sourced seafood
Similarly in the UK, people are only eating around half of the amount of seafood recommended by the government. To help educate consumers on the benefits of sustainable seafood, the NSC partnered with several businesses, schools and families across Letchworth, in the city of Hertfordshire, to launch a sustainability campaign.
The campaign last summer was supported by a host of activities including promotions with local chippies to celebrate the UK’s favourite dish; fish and chips, whilst Seafood from Norway Ambassador and Michelin-starred chef, Simon Hulstone, helped educate diners at two local pubs on the benefits of choosing sustainable seafood.
Taking inspiration from Fiskesprell, school meals expert, Kate Snow, worked with two Letchworth primary schools; to educate and inspire consumers to eat more sustainably sourced seafood. This included engaging with the youngest members of the local community, and tickling their tastebuds with fun, informative and tasty lessons. Pupils were treated to an educational cookery lesson, whilst learning how to make a healthy, nutritious fish dish and understand seafood’s role in a sustainable future for food.
To help understand the drivers for not eating more seafood, eight local families were challenged to increase their weekly seafood consumption at home. Several reasons were cited for not eating enough fish in the first place, with rising costs being the most prominent response. Other significant barriers to not eating fish varied from lack of recipe knowledge, not liking the smell or taste, the physical appearance and also, concerns about sustainability.
The three-week seafood trial provided recipe inspiration from TV chef and personality, Lisa Faulkner, and top tips from a registered dietician and nutritionist, Juliette Kellow. Families were provided with a seafood recipe booklet, a weekly delivery of fresh ingredients, and regular meetings to discuss progress. Upon trial completion, ALL of the participating families said they’re highly likely to replace some of the meat in their diet with fish moving forward.
The response to sustainable seafood from Letchworth residents was extremely encouraging, whilst consumer engagement with social media activity was also a success, with a total reach of 368,783 and 1,051,067 Impressions.
France focuses on social media influencers to inspire and increase consumers’ mealtime repertoire
Comparably in France, the National Nutrition and Health Program’s dietary guidelines recommends fish is eaten twice a week, however, 41.8 million French consumers eat less seafood than what is recommended by the health authorities. A study conducted by the Norwegian Seafood Council revealed that one reason for this could largely be because 59% of the French population only know how to cook between one to three different seafood dishes .
To tackle this problem, the NSC conducted a social media campaign to try and increase saithe’s preference and awareness in the French market. Focusing on a back-to-school campaign to encourage families to get back on a healthier track following an indulgent summer holiday, five parenting and lifestyle influencers were targeted to begin a family cooking experiment with saithe. Influencers were given meal-kits, Pedagogical leaflets, recipes and goodies to help them with cooking sessions and establish saithe as one of the greatest allies in the families’ daily life.
Social media engagement proved positive during the campaign, with 2,320 total interactions, and 41,160 impressions from consumers reacting to nutritional information and recipe content from each of the influencers.
Concluded Martin: “It has been really encouraging to see how different nations tackle the global issue of seafood consumption. It is evident across the board that we all need to consider incorporating more fish into our diets, and it’s important that we educate our future generations on the overall benefits.
“Choosing seafood that is sustainably sourced from countries like Norway, will not only benefit our health but also help to ensure the planet – and our world’s fish stocks – are protected for generations to come. We hope these campaigns will inspire consumers to eat more sustainably sourced seafood and look forward to exploring similar initiatives further this year.”
Source: Press Release