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Seafood Should Be Familiar and Remind Us of Home

During the Tromsø Seafood Festival 2024, Nofima marketing researcher Themis Altintzoglou presented insightful strategies to increase seafood consumption. His presentation focused on bridging the gap between traditional, familiar seafood dishes and the lesser known but equally nutritious species that live along the Norwegian coast.

The presentation started with a simple question, taking upon family meals and Norwegian traditional food: What do fish balls and fish pudding have in common?

They are quintessential comfort foods for many Norwegians, reminiscent of childhood meals and family gatherings. These dishes are deeply rooted in Norwegian culture and evoke a sense of nostalgia and home.

In contrast, species like sea urchins, pink salmon, seaweed and kelp, mussels, and oysters are not as familiar. These species are rarely seen on dinner plates and are often overlooked by consumers. Despite their numerous health benefits—including essential vitamins and being a healthy protein source—and their lower carbon footprint, these seafood options remain underappreciated.

Why aren’t these seafood species more popular?

“Because they are unknown to us,” explains Altintzoglou.

Familiarity plays a significant role in food choices. The unknown can be intimidating, and many people are hesitant to try new types of seafood simply because they are not part of their traditional diet. This unfamiliarity creates a barrier to incorporating these nutritious and sustainable options into regular meals.

So, what can we do to open our eyes to new food from the sea?

Altintzoglou confidently suggests creating a sense of nostalgia. “We should create the feeling of being at home with grandparents as a child,” he says. Nostalgia is a powerful tool that can make new experiences feel comforting and familiar. By associating new seafood species with positive memories now, we can make them more appealing to consumers in the future.

More recipes, more inspiration, more species

To make consumers more familiar with new species, we need to provide more recipes and inspiration. Introducing a variety of seafood dishes that incorporate these lesser-known species can help demystify them and make them a regular part of our diet. Cooking shows, food blogs, and social media can play a pivotal role in this educational process, showcasing easy and delicious ways to prepare these seafood options.

Emphasizing the accessibility and sustainability of these species is also key. Many of these seafood options grow along the Norwegian coast, making them readily available and a sustainable choice for consumers. Highlighting their environmental benefits alongside their health benefits can encourage more people to give them a try.

In conclusion, by creating connections to familiar and comforting experiences, and by providing ample inspiration and information, we can make a broader range of seafood species a beloved part of our diets. The Tromsø Seafood Festival 2024 highlights the potential of these strategies to transform our seafood consumption habits, making our diets more sustainable and nutritious. For more information visit the festival website here: www.sjomatfest.no/