November 30, 2023

Most Canadians are regularly eating seafood despite high grocery prices, according to a new survey.

Fish and other seafood dishes are routinely included in their meals, 87 per cent of Canadians said in a recent poll conducted by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University and the Angus Reid Institute.

The results published Tuesday showed that even though daily consumption of seafood is rare in the country, Canadians are eating seafood on a weekly and monthly basis.

The online poll was conducted in June and included some 1,000 Canadian adults.

Stefanie Colombo, associate professor and Canada research chair at Dalhousie University, said she was “surprised” to find that such a large proportion of Canadians eat seafood on a regular basis.

The results are however consistent with the global trends, she said, with the increased consumption of animal protein, including fish.

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In British Columbia, 45.8 per cent of respondents said they have fish and seafood every week, followed by 39 per cent in Atlantic provinces saying the same.

Quebec has the lowest weekly consumption of seafood (27.2 per cent), the survey found.

Four in 10 across the country are also willing to pay more for certified sustainable seafood, the survey found.

Canadians are primarily buying fish, like finfish, trout or salmon, as opposed to other forms of seafood – such as crab, mussels, oysters, shellfish or crustacean, Colombo told Global News.

More people also eat seafood at home (60 per cent) rather than in a restaurant (31 per cent), she added. Most people also prefer seafood that is Canadians rather than imported.

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This comes as prices at the grocery store rose again last month, increasing 5.8 per cent year-over-year in September, according to Statistics Canada’s latest inflation report.

The overall price for fish, seafood and other marine products was up 4.3 per cent last month compared with September 2022, StatCan data showed.

The cost for fresh or frozen fish was up 3.8 per cent annually in September, while canned and other preserved fish saw a year-over-year price hike of 8.9 per cent last month.

Back in June when the survey was conducted, grocery prices were up 9.1 per cent year-over-year, although bakery items and dairy products were the biggest drivers.

Nutrition was the main motivation to eat seafood for 64 per cent of Canadians in the poll.

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“Canadians want healthy food and I think, there’s probably some realization that they’re getting high value with regard to healthy food when they’re buying seafood,” Colombo said in an interview with Global News.

Environment and climate change are also important factors when making food choices, more than half said in the poll Tuesday. Nearly one in four (21 per cent) cited affordability as the reason for their seafood consumption.

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When it comes to the type of seafood, more Canadians prefer frozen over fresh, but there are some demographic differences.

Of the Gen Z respondents aged 18 to 29 years, 49 per cent said they prefer frozen seafood compared with 39 per cent of Gen X, aged 44 to 58 years That proportion dropped for fresh seafood, with 16.9 per cent of Gen Z going for this option and 31.5 per cent of Gen X choosing the same.

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Convenience is one of the reasons why frozen seafood is most popular, particular among the youngest generation, Colombo said.

Wild seafood was also the more popular choice compared to farmed products, with British Columbia (67.9 per cent) leading this preference among the provinces.

Canadians also care about the humane treatment of their seafood from sea to retail, with half the respondents saying they consider this an important factor.

— with files from Global News’ Craig Lord. 

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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