Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate motives and barriers for eating fish among light users and heavy users, to discuss consumer evaluation of fish quality, and to explore the existence of cross-cultural fish consumer segments.
Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative data were collected through six focus group discussions, three in Spain and three in Belgium. In each country, one group consisted of heavy users while two groups included light users.
Findings – The same attitudinal motives and barriers for fish consumption can be found in both countries and across user groups, even though fish consumption levels differ considerably. The main motives for eating fish are health and taste, while the main barriers are price perception, smell when cooking fish, and that fish does not deliver the same level of satiety as compared to meat. Big differences are found between countries and user groups with respect to preparation skills and the use of quality cues. Heavy users are very skilled in evaluating fish quality, especially those in Spain, while light users, especially those in Belgium, make seemingly irrational assumptions when evaluating the quality of fish.
Research limitations/implications – This study is based on qualitative focus group discussions in two European countries only.
Originality/value – This study explores and compares motives, barriers and quality evaluation among heavy and light fish consumers in two European countries. The paper yields valuable insights for further quantitative research into explaining variations in fish consumption, as well as for fish quality evaluation and fish market segmentation studies.