Changing Lifestyle, Changing Preference

Last month, I attended a Wholesale Fish Market event at the Jurong Fishery Port.  The fish merchants told me that Singaporeans were the second largest consumers of fish, after the Japanese, in Asia, in per capita consumption terms.  However, in the same breath, they lamented that their business has been heading south all these years.

I was confused.  Amidst the loud music, they could not explain to me the discrepancy in the two statements.

I speculated that it had to do with the consumers’ rising preference for frozen fish over chilled fish.  The former does not go through the wholesale fish market.

AVA has confirmed it.  Let me share some of their data.

There are two fishery ports in Singapore: Jurong and Senoko.  At Jurong Fishery Port the amount of fish handled dropped by 24% from 78,524 T in 2001 to 60,027 T in 2010. Over at Senoko, the drop was 32% from 14,019 T to 9,522 T.

This in turn is due to changing consumer preference for frozen versus chilled / live fish.  Our consumption of frozen fish (whole, fillet, cuts/steaks) has doubled from 17,150 T in 2002 to 34,297 T in 2010.

Fig 2 shows the changing market share more starkly.

Within a decade, the market share of chilled/live fish has shrunk from about 80% to 60%.  And the declining trend is likely to continue.

This also explains why wet markets are losing market share to supermarkets.  This reflects modern lifestyles of nuclear families with working couples.

Fishery ports and wet markets have to note this lifestyle change, as they formulate their future business plans.

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