Russian consumer preferences displaying bias for healthy seafood

July 2, 2007 12:54

In the year 2006 the capacity of the Russian seafood market increased by 15% to ca.400 billion RUR accounting for 8% of the nation's total turnover of food products, according to an estimate of Timur Mitupov, head of Investment-Analytical Group of OOO Norge-Fish (ltd). The structure of the retail turnover included 30% (120 billion RUR) of processed and ready-to-eat fish products.

Some 30% of seafood items are sold at city markets and stalls, 45% are sold in small "near home" shops. The share of retail chains amounted to 25% of the total seafood sales on the Russian retail market.

The Russian wholesalers observed the strongest demand of the domestic retailers for such freshfrozen seafood as herring (27%), Alaska pollock (26%), shellfish and mollusks (20%), mackerel (18%), salmon and trout (10%).

The structure of a typical fish counter in a retail shop included 20% of whole/round fish, 20% of dressed fish, 15% of fillets, 20% of convenience products and ready-to-eat items, 20% of canned fish and marinated fish and 5% of other products.

General director of OOO Norge-Fish (ltd) Sergey Vladimirovich Gudkov says that the current condition of the fish processing complex and positive trends of value added seafood consumption mean that in the near future the current capacities will be unable to satisfy the growing demand of the population. The above assumption touches the most popular product groups such as marinated fish, smoked, lightly salted fish and fish fillets. This segment of the market is greatly dependent on imports.

The structure of consumer consumption and preferences are in direct dependence on the households' income level. For instance, frozen fish is the most popular group for all the population of Russia, though people earning less than RUR10,000 per month prefer cheap species such as cod, hake, Alaska pollock, while those earning about RUR15,000-20,000 buy species from the medium price segment such as herring, pink salmon and mackerel. With the income growing to RUR30,000-40,000 per month the range of consumed seafood is increased with a corresponding shift to highly priced species such as salmon, trout, sturgeons, fillets, smoked and marinated seafood. In the recent years the demand for mollusks, oysters and seaweed has been growing especially fast.

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