Consumer survey on salted fish




Aðalheiður Ólafsdóttir, Kolbrún Sveinsdóttir

Supported by:

AG Fisk, AVS Research Fund


Aðalheiður Ólafsdóttir

Sensory evaluation manager

Consumer survey on salted fish

There is a long tradition for processing salted fish in this country, but before that the salt was used primarily to extend the shelf life of the fish. Today, salted fish is considered a gourmet product that is very popular in many parts of the world, not least in Southern Europe, where the traditions and quality of Icelandic salted fish play a major role. Matís ran workshops with salted fish producers and chefs in April and May 2019. Their goal was, among other things, to assess the position of salted fish in the domestic market. It was stated that information was needed on Icelanders' views on salted fish in order to better assess the opportunities in Iceland. Based on the results of the workshops, an online survey was conducted with the aim of researching the image of salted fish products in the minds of Icelanders, general knowledge of salted fish and its history, and the experience of salted fish. The consumption frequency of salted fish, lightly salted fish and night-salted fish was also examined, as well as attitudes towards salted fish compared to lightly salted and night-salted fish. The survey was conducted in May 2019 and was published by 17,000 Facebook users, 18 years and older. A total of 505 people completed the survey.

There was a big difference in the participants' answers according to age. The results show that consumption of both fish and salted fish decreases with decreasing age. Only about 29% participants aged 18-29 eat salted fish once a year or more often than the corresponding proportion for the oldest group, 60-70 years, is about 94%. The main reason why participants do not eat salted fish is that they do not like it. Other reasons are that it is too salty, lack of supply, that there is little tradition for salted fish, and that fresh fish is preferred. In general, attitudes towards salted fish were quite positive and the experience of those who have bought salted fish in a restaurant, fish shop and grocery store was good. However, younger participants are generally more negative about salted fish and more likely to find the taste of salted fish bad than older ones. Knowledge and interest in salted fish also decreases with decreasing age, and the same applies to the purchase frequency of salted fish, lightly salted fish and night-salted fish. The results indicate that the taste of salted fish varies according to age. Older participants are more likely to want salted fish well salted and find it less salty than younger ones.

Saltfish has been intertwined with Icelandic history and food culture for centuries. The results of this survey, however, show declining knowledge, interest and consumption of salted fish in younger age groups. This development can be explained by an increased selection of foods, changed tastes, attitudes and habits. It is likely that the image of salted fish as a quality product will be affected and that great changes are taking place in the consumption of salted fish among Icelanders. In order to promote the consumption of salted fish, it needs to be better promoted and made more visible, not least among younger age groups, whether in canteens, supermarkets, fishmongers or restaurants.

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