Can more and better recipes be a key to getting more young adults in Norway to eat more fish and seafood? A survey conducted by Nofima among almost 1000 young adult consumers in Norway may indicate this.
Seafood consumption among young adults in Norway is far below the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s recommendation of 2-3 meals per week. Therefore, on commission from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Nofima has conducted a survey among young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 in Norway. The aim of the survey is to take a closer look at what influences seafood consumption among young people who are old enough to decide their own menu.
“Cooking skills and knowledge are key words. Good recipes and knowledge that give you confidence in the kitchen seem to be decisive factors in getting more people to eat fish and other seafood”, says scientist Morten Heide.
Together with his colleagues Pirjo Honkanen and Themis Altintzoglou and with assistance from the market research agency Syno International, he has prepared the report ‘What influences the seafood consumption of young adults in Norway? The influence of cooking skills and knowledge’.
Taste and price of seafood are important
Previous studies have shown that taste and price are important factors that explain why seafood seldom is at the top of the menu when young people are establishing their own eating habits.
The Nofima scientists therefore wanted to find out more about how other important factors, such as cooking skills and knowledge, can explain young adults’ seafood consumption. In addition, they wanted to find reasons why some young adults rarely or never eat seafood.
The survey was conducted using a questionnaire that 949 young adults responded to.
“The main reason why some young adults never eat fish is simply that they prefer other foods. The results from this survey also indicate that young adults are more insecure about preparing seafood than many other types of food”, Heide states.
According to the report, one explanation for this may be that young people master cooking fewer dishes that include seafood compared to other ingredients. However, the results show that increased knowledge and mastery can also lead to increased consumption. Those people who generally know a lot about cooking are also the ones who put seafood on the dinner table more often.
“Especially the youngest consumers had poorer cooking skills with regard to fish and seafood consumption. The results show that food recipes are an important part of this. Young adults are significantly more uncertain about making fish dishes without a recipe than with a recipe. The availability of good seafood recipes for young adults is therefore important”, Morten Heide states.
More knowledge about seafood recipes
The Nofima scientists believe that more knowledge is needed about which types of recipes are easiest for this group of consumers to use.
“It is also important to understand how recipes should be designed – for example, whether they should be written or visual in order for them to be used, understood, and incorporated into the permanent repertoire of dishes young adults are able to make”, says Research Director Pirjo Honkanen.
According to the report, initiatives will therefore be important to increase the cooking skills of young people when it comes to seafood. The scientists believe that Fiskesprell, organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council, is an example of an initiative that can contribute to this over time. Fiskesprell is a national nutrition programme that aims to increase seafood consumption among children and young people. Together with employees in kindergartens and schools, the goal is to create seafood enjoyment, and make seafood a natural choice from a very young age.
“Skills and knowledge that children develop can help when consumers become adults”, says Honkanen.
Men find inspiration on YouTube
The scientists also found that men were significantly more insecure than women about using written and visual recipes.
“The factors that make men more insecure and how to increase their confidence should therefore be investigated more closely”, says Morten Heide.
Various websites are largely used as a source of inspiration when young adults prepare fish for dinner. By far the most important of these was Matprat.no, and the king of sites offering purely visual cooking inspiration was YouTube.
“The results indicate that there may be differences between the sources of inspiration men and women use. A much larger proportion of men use YouTube as a source of inspiration compared to women, and YouTube is also the main source of inspiration for young men. It also seems that young men use visual sources of inspiration to a greater extent than women”, Heide points out.
Don’t bad-mouth seafood
Then there is the fact that some young people almost never taste fish and other seafood. Why is that?
“One of the factors may be the way we talk about fish, and how it affects preferences. For example, we know that young people sometimes talk negatively about fish, such as ‘fish smells bad’ and ‘fish is disgusting’”, says Pirjo Honkanen.
She believes that it would be a good thing to stop ‘bad-mouthing’ fish and seafood if the goal is to follow the health authorities’ dietary recommendations.
“A better understanding of how these mechanisms work, and developing better initiatives and communication about seafood, can contribute to positive attitudes and increased consumption”, says Honkanen.
Facts about the project:
- The project had the following objectives:
- To investigate what influences young adults’ food choices with special focus on seafood
- To generate new knowledge about what influences young adults’ seafood consumption
- To investigate why some young adults don’t eat seafood
- To increase knowledge about opportunities and barriers in order to increase seafood consumption among young adults
- A survey was conducted by market research agency Syno in November/December 2022. A total of 949 young adult (18–35 years) respondents in Norway participated in the survey.
Facts about the findings
- High prices and taste were by far the two most important reasons why young adult consumers in Norway stated they did not eat more fish.
- Young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 stated that they felt insecure when preparing fish without using a recipe.
- Far fewer consumers were insecure about cooking fish when using a recipe, which shows that it is important that fish recipes are readily available to consumers.
- People who possessed general cooking knowledge had higher consumption of fish fillets, showing that cooking skills positively influence consumption.