In a pilot study done to assess demand drivers in augmenting fish consumption in Ernakulam city, CMFRI researchers found that mackerel remains the most preferred fish with a high score of 0.577 followed by sardine 0.561 in the preference index analysis.
A preference assessment index is the composite index which takes into account numerous parameters which determine fish consumption like availability, accessibility, quality, nutrition, tradition, etc.
There exists a high uniformity between the respondents in buying mackerel as well as sardine. The major constraints in fish consumption were lack of fresh fish, high price and irregular supply. "Fresh fish was of popular demand and that was why consumers were even looking at online markets," said Shyam S Salim, principal scientist, CMFRI.
The study points out that the average monthly income of the respondents has a very good role on the fish consumption as about 38% of the income is used for purchasing fish. Around 54.2% of the total respondents were purchasing fish on a daily basis and about 72% of the respondents depended on the retail centres for purchasing fish.
The nutritional values of mackerel (0.84%) as well as the tradition in eating sardine (0.85%) are the major reasons of the respondents preferring both. The taste and the tradition are marked as the important drivers in the consumption of anchovies whereas for tuna, availability is the major reason for preference. The taste of prawns and the accessibility of sole fish are the reasons for their preference. Also, the availability of threadfin breams, quality of seer fish and crab, taste and preference of pomfret, etc. are the major reasons for the consumption of these species by the respondents.
One of the major objectives of the study was to assess the trends and pattern of fish consumption and to analyse factors that drive people to consume fish and also to assess the major constraints faced by the consumers.
The fish production issues, middle-men problems, impacts of climate change are some reasons for lack of fresh fish. The respondents said that purchase and demand of the fish have not been reduced yet due to these reasons and their fish consumption has only increased fairly despite the high prices. But the irregular supply as well as the poor access and other reasons force them to depend on fish products and other sources.