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Cans instead of fresh food counters – now the Germans are also hoarding fish

In the two years of the Corona pandemic, visitors to the weekly markets often stood in long queues in front of the fish trolleys.

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Cans instead of fresh food counters – now the Germans are also hoarding fish

In the two years of the Corona pandemic, visitors to the weekly markets often stood in long queues in front of the fish trolleys. Fresh fish and fish products were particularly popular purchases in the days of domestic cooking. But this trend is changing. One reason for this is likely to be the sharp rise in prices in the past. Now the Germans are saving on fish again.

According to a data collection on the fish industry in Germany that has now been presented, private buyers bought a good 14 percent fewer fish products in the first half of 2022 than in the same period last year, in figures it was 38,171 tons. The value of fish purchases also fell by 14 percent or 412 million euros. This was determined by the Hamburg Fish Information Center.

The lobby organization of the German fishing industry interprets the decline as foreseeable and undramatic. Compared to the time before the corona pandemic, these are still higher values. And finally, the years 2020 and 2021 were characterized by a number of special effects.

In 2021 as a whole, on the other hand, Germans had even more money in their wallets for buying fish. In terms of value, the purchase rose by a good one percent to a record value of 5.4 billion euros. However, the quantities fell by two percent to around 495,000 tons of fish and fish products. On average, each consumer ate 12.7 kilograms of fish last year. This is measured by the catch weight.

Germany is thus below the global average of 19 kilograms calculated by the Food and Agriculture Organization. At around 60 kilograms a year, the Norwegians, Portuguese and South Koreans eat far more fish and fish products.

There was a shift in the ranking of the most popular fish species in 2021. Alaska Pollock has pushed tuna from second to third place behind salmon, which is once again number one. In this country, Alaska Pollock is mainly sold in the form of the popular fish sticks. This is followed by herring, shrimp, trout, squid, mussels, mackerel and cod in the top ten.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, groceries in general became more expensive by a good three percent last year, but the price increase for fish and fish products was just under two percent. However, the fishing industry is currently expecting prices to rise again. There are "current challenges in adjusting consumer prices to the enormous price increases for energy and logistics," says the report.

In the shopping basket of fish buyers, preserved products dominate. Canned fish and fish marinades accounted for 28 percent of sales in 2021, followed by frozen products at 24 percent. Fresh fish was far behind with 13 percent. Especially with canned fish such as tuna or herring marinades, something special arose during the months of the corona pandemic. The Germans stockpiled these long-lasting supplies in unexpectedly large quantities.

When asked where Germany's fish eaters live, according to the data, there is a clear north-south divide. But with one exception: behind Schleswig-Holstein at the top with an average 7.1 kilograms of fish purchases, Rhineland-Palatinate ranks with 6.9 kilograms. Hamburg, Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony follow in third place. The proximity to the coast of the North Sea or Baltic Sea should play an important role.

At the bottom of the list are the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg. This information in kilograms requires an explanation: the market research institute GfK made the comparison of the countries. The institute used the product weight as a criterion for this – in contrast to the catch weight specified in kilograms above.

However, Germany is catching less and less fish itself. The number of landings by German deep-sea fisheries fell by nine percent last year. The fleet of trawlers in Germany, at 10,200 units, has hardly decreased year-on-year. Among them, however, are only seven deep-sea trawlers.

The local fishing industry lost four percent in sales last year and achieved sales of 2.35 billion euros. The industry employs around 36,600 women and men. That is about four percent more than in the previous year.

88 percent of the consumption of fish and fish products in Germany is supplied with imported goods. The most important supplier country by far is neighboring Poland with a share of 22 percent. This is followed by the Netherlands and Denmark, and again with a much smaller proportion, Lithuania and France.

As with many other food offers, the discounters also dominate when it comes to fish. For frozen fish, Aldi, Lidl and Co. have a 50 percent share of sales. Even with fresh fish, their dominance is pronounced at 39 percent.

These fish products are packed in a plastic tray and covered with a film. Thanks to a technical packaging process, they can be kept in the fridge for several days.

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