When buying fish, consumers are now paying more attention to variation, taste, health value and sustainability. And yet convenience remains a high priority. Consumers want to be able to whip up a tasty and balanced meal quickly, which is why ready meals are becoming more and more popular.
Figures from the international market research agency GfK, show that last year the average Belgian bought approximately 9.3 kg of fish (including molluscs and crustaceans). Half of that volume of fish was bought deep-frozen. Fishmongers are losing more and more of their market share, which is currently at 11.4%. Supermarkets and hard discount stores remain the market leaders with 42.3% and 24% respectively. Neighbourhood supermarkets have held their position and now account for approximately 11.6% of fish sales.
The type of ready meals available has increased significantly in recent years. There are countless options, meaning producers can very easily meet the expectations of the consumer. It is therefore no wonder that producers of ready meals are now starting to pay a great deal of attention to variety, taste, health value, sustainability and convenience.
They are working together with an army of dieticians and nutrition experts while constantly keeping in mind the principles of the National Nutrition and Health Plan (Nationale Voedings- en Gezondheidsplan, NVGP). We are also starting to see more balanced recipes in the meals designed by famous chefs. The meals contain larger portions of fish and vegetables, while the amount of salt and fat has fallen drastically.
Salmon and cod remain the most popular types of fish for ready meals, but dab, Alaska pollock and Pangasius are slowly gaining ground. The variety to be observed in the ready meal market is also steadily increasing: from the traditional fish bakes and pâtés to puff pastry nibbles, appetisers with marinated or breaded fish, stuffed shellfish, fish mousses, pastas, paella dishes… the list goes on. There are several reasons for the current rise of the ready meal. Consumers now find they have less time to cook for themselves, yet are attaching more importance to sustainability and health factors.
Natural products and traditional working methods are also more sought after. And this is not only the case in the fish industry, but also in the food industry in general. Consumers are now prepared to pay a little more for traditionally made ice cream, bread without preservatives or boneless fish that has been filleted by hand.
Your partner for fish, Pittman Seafoods, is ready to respond to this new demand and to offer hand-filleted portions of salmon, cod, Alaska pollock or dab.
Made to order
Pittman Seafoods is known for its offering of sustainable fish species. In its factory in Zeebrugge, this family business can saw fish into steaks and cubes according to the requirements of the client. The sawing line can produce different sizes (from 6 grams) and cutting patterns, and switching between different setups is very straight-forward. The sizes, weights and volumes are determined according to the requirements of the client. This is different to dealing with larger companies that impose a minimum volume per cut type.
In keeping a close eye each day on the trends and developments in the market, Pittman Seafoods is much more than a producer. ‘We are happy to advise our clients with respect to fishing seasons, ideal purchasing times, price developments and new possibilities’, says Katrien Geneyn, Key Account Manager for the Benelux region at Pittman Seafoods. ‘We want to be more than your supplier; we want to be your trusted partner and consultant too.’