French consumers consider salmon with Yuka

Salmon Yuka appNofima researcher Florent Govaerts presents the app that may provide the French with new consumer habits. "Norwegian salmon producers should be aware of how their products are being evaluated," Florent Govaerts states. Photo: Emil Bremnes, Nofima

French consumers consider salmon with Yuka

French consumers are increasingly using mobile apps to find out about food products they are considering to buy. Food Wiki’s, such as Yuka, where everyone can enter foods, can cause unfamiliar challenges for Norwegian salmon producers.

“In France, food is an important matter and is a major part of national culture. The French have become ever more aware of what they eat, and the interest is growing constantly. Today, 69 per cent of consumers are interested in the effect the diet has on their health. The growing interest over the years has also changed the buying habits of the consumers,” the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food states.

«Yuka», «Foodvisor», «Kwalito» and «Open Food Facts» are four apps, developed in France, which are becoming increasingly popular with consumers.

Yuka is the best known. Yuka has grown rapidly, with more than five million downloads on Google play, in less than two years. The consumer scans the barcode of a product to obtain information about the product’s nutritional properties and deficiencies. Each product gets a score on a scale of 1-100 according to nutritional properties (60%), additive content (30%) and ecological dimension (10%).

The database is expanding rapidly

Only one year after it was launched in 2018, the Yuka app contained more than 500,000 products in its database. The app is completely independent of manufacturers and distributors. It is a Wiki much like Wikipedia. That is, consumers are adding information about products to Yuka’s database themselves. The app automatically calculates the nutritional quality of a product based on that.

The app can be used by anyone. Consumers throughout France are introducing new products into the database. When you add a new product, the app scans the barcode, ingredient list and nutrition table.

Smoked salmon fares badly

Although salmon is known to be a healthy source of protein and fat, smoked salmon is described as a bad product, according to both Yuka and Openfoodfacts. They claim that smoked salmon contains too much salt and are, therefore, considered hazardous to consumers.

If we compare smoked with fresh salmon from Norway, fresh salmon scores higher because it contains less salt.

France is Europe’s second largest smoked salmon producer and uses 60% Norwegian salmon in its production. In addition, France has the second highest consumption of salmon in Europe.

To make smoked salmon more attractive, it may be an idea to develop a product with less salt. This can be challenging, as cold-smoked salmon is salted to increase shelf life.

When it comes to fresh salmon, the good evaluations of the product can reassure French consumers – who have been affected by negative comments on, for example, ethoxyquin, antibiotics and insecticides in salmon.



May affect reputation

Yuka has become available in other countries due to its success in France. The app has recently been introduced in Belgium and Switzerland. It is not yet available in Norway.

The salmon industry has no reason to fear apps like Yuka at the moment. The industry must, however, be on its toes, as Yuka’s success is based on consumer desire to choose healthier products. Due to this app, you are able to compare the nutritional properties of products of the same category. Exporters will thus be able to offer salmon that stand out from the crowd – with lower fat content.

Apps like Yuka are, in short, new and influential players that can affect a product’s reputation.

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