“The number 1 purchasing criterion price”: popular fish, its cost an ever-increasing barrier to consumption

“The number 1 purchasing criterion price”: popular fish, its cost an ever-increasing barrier to consumption

Dans les halles de Narbonne, Magali constate l'augmentation des prix depuis le passage à l'euro. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

As a percentage, 96% of French people like to eat fish. On the other hand, for nearly 70% of them, the price of this product is a barrier to consumption, reveals a survey. Another lesson from the Ifop study, 81% of our fellow citizens believe that tricolor aquatic foods are better and healthier. The French fishing industry, already affected by a resource crisis, is met in Lorient to discuss the French interest in its products. The observation: fish remains one of the favorite dishes, consumers want freshness, but they are less and less inclined to devote a significant part of their purchasing power to it.

In front of her stall in the market halls of Narbonne where extra-fresh red mullet, mackerel and other John Dory are eye-catching, Magali Dellong, a fishmonger for four generations, readily recognizes it.

"Yes, fish is expensive. At one time, I sold sardines for 10 francs per kilo (1.5 euros; Editor’s note). There, it is 8.8 €. Same for sea bream, I knew it at 15Francs per kilo… Since the changeover to the euro, it has increased", she estimates. However, she "works, we don't complain" recognizes the merchant, benefiting from a clientele who can afford it.

This is far from being the case for all French people and the study published by the IFOP, for Ouest-France and Le Marin, Thursday at the national meetings fishing in Lorient, confirms it.

"The fundamentals are good: 96% of French people consume fish and 57% of our fellow citizens do so weekly, for 24% concerning shellfish and crustaceans, these are significant volumes" indicates Jérôme Fourquet, director of the department “Opinion and corporate strategies” of the IFOP. Older people favor seafood more than younger generations.

Shrimp, salmon, tuna, cod at the top

With, the gang of four,  "Blockbusters" who always prance around head, whether the most consumed or the most appreciated: salmon, shrimp, tuna and cod.

"But the lower we go in income, the more the frequency will decrease, the same goes for shellfish and crustaceans and this also affects the coastal departments" continues Jérôme Fourquet who presented the study.

The question of price therefore has a stronger influence on the act of purchasing to such an extent that with the return of inflation, "in five years, the price has risen to the level of freshness as the number 1 purchasing criterion" reveals the specialist . For more than two thirds of French people, this is a barrier to purchasing.

"According to our statistics, at checkout, today, non-essential products like cheeses and fish are the two sections that are losing more market share" completes Benoît Denni, Scapmarée director for Leclerc which supplies 200 stores.

Having considered this, how can we explain these often high prices if we are talking about French fishing while the products imported from abroad are much less so ? There is certainly less fish than in France. before and inflation is there, but that’s not all.

"The stock situation is improving in the Mediterranean"

"The most recent studies show that the stock situation is improving in the Mediterranean, but we remain in crisis" nuance the Sétois Bertrand Wendling, general director of Sa-ThoAn which brings together 120 fishing vessels in the Mediterranean.

"Because people want local, fresh, sustainable products and then there is the act of purchasing which is different.& quot;

He cites the example of the famous Mediterranean bluefin tuna, delicious, in season, but in competition with yellowfin tuna from tropical areas, sold defrosted and half the price… &quot ;It's hard to compete", he said, annoyed.

The reason: in certain countries, social criteria can be almost non-existent (very low income for workers for example), not to mention the fishing conditions are degraded and industrialized.

"Fish is like meat, some very good ones are more expensive and like many products, there are also too many charges, taxes and of course inflation" recalls Bernard Perez, president of the Occitanie regional committee.

"Expensive fish, a preconceived idea"

Marine resources have increased even more than the rest of the products over two decades: 57% compared to 40% on average.

"To say that fish is expensive is one of the preconceived ideas that we are fighting against. Some species are less known and accessible" reacts for her part Hélène Keraudren, general delegate of France Filière Pêche (FFP).

"Afterwards, the species caught in small quantities mean that we do not take many, with a price per kilo which is reflected significantly. Furthermore, the industry is manual, fish trading involves a lot of people and labor is expensive, this brings economic value to the fish."< /p>

"Freshness matters, so fish sells for more in the Mediterranean"

Regional products, unloaded in four auctions (Grau-du-Roi, Sète, Agde and Port-la-Nouvelle) are sold using the principle of descending auctions and according to supply and demand. These places of sale in Occitanie are popular with the Spanish and Italians, who can grab 60 to 70% of the products from the Grau-du-Roi cooperative, the largest, & quot;that drives up the price", assures Magali Dellong, the fishmonger from Aude.

"We have no power over prices" recalls Paul-Anthony Gros, owner of a trawl and vice-president of the Gard fisheries committee. He recalls that the fishmongers – those who buy the stocks – are the decision-makers.

He also evokes the specificity of Mediterranean ships, which fish for the day unlike their Atlantic counterparts: "Rarity plays a role, but also the freshness of the day, so the fish sells for more."

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