WEFTA 2023.
Conference of the Western European Fish Technologists’ Association.
Copenhagen, Denmark. 16th – 20th October 2023.

Title of Presentation
[18 Oct. 2023. SESSION 4] Resilient future food systems: extending consumer knowledge along the fish value chain

This 2022 research focused on exploring the Swedish consumers’ attitudes and perceptions of roach fish as food products.

With an increasing need for sustainable food sources, understanding consumer attitudes towards lesser-consumed fish types like roach fish is crucial.

Method: A qualitative study was designed to gauge the consumer’s opinions and attitudes about their usage of processed fish products. 124 consumers expressed interest, with 7 participants (3 men, 4 women, aged 40-71) finally participating in the focus group. The group tasted both prototype and commercial Finnish fish products.

Findings: Initial responses revealed a prevalent negative perception of roach fish, often described as “cat food” or discarded as unwanted. Most participants mistakenly identified all samples as mackerel. Historical attitudes towards roach fish, especially due to its small bones, deemed it undesirable. Interestingly, both older and younger participants viewed roach fish as negative, despite not having much direct experience with it. However, discussions highlighted potential opportunities, suggesting introducing roach in fine dining or delis with attractive packaging. There was also mention of introducing roach fish to children and young people in schools, aiming to reshape the narrative and overcome established biases.

Conclusion: The study underscores the deeply entrenched prejudices against roach fish among Swedish consumers. To integrate roach fish into future food systems resiliently, a multifaceted approach is needed, which includes changing the narrative through education, innovative product offerings, and targeted marketing strategies. It also shows the importance of consumer knowledge and empowerment along the fish value chain where greater knowledge of fish types can help make future sustainable food choices towards a more resilient food system.

Normann, A., Oberrauter, L-M., Sörensen, V., & Cordeiro, C.M. (2023). Resilient future food systems: extending consumer knowledge along the fish value chain. In Conference of the Western European Fish Technologists’ Association: Book of Abstracts, WEFTA 2023 (Session 4: Consumer attitudes, societal challenges and seafood products, pp.72). Copenhagen, Denmark.