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9. Market characteristics

The majority of smoked fish is sold to consumers via Afro Caribbean grocery shops and Afro Caribbean restaurants in London. Some importers have their own grocery shops. Retailers are concentrated in certain areas of London such as Brixton, Peckham, Dalston in the south and Finsbury Park in the north. There are six retailers in Brixton Market alone, four run by Nigerians, one by Ghanaians and one by Sierra Leoneans.

Retailers display product un-packed alongside vegetables, gari, rice and beans, etc. Some product is also displayed in plain plastic bags. Some retailers also sell frozen product from retail freezer cabinets. This is packed in plain plastic bags and may be priced.

The retailer will weigh the product and sells to the consumer by the pound. Retail sales peak on Fridays and Saturdays.

The main consumers in the UK of smoked fish from West Africa are people from West African origin. The main market is in London. Small pockets of consumers exist in other major UK cities such as Leeds and Glasgow, where product is supplied by traders who visit London to buy and return to their respective cities. According to a Nigerian trader in Brixton “all Nigerians must include smoked fish in their daily soup [meal]”. She went on to explain that smoked fish is sold quickly for a good profit.

As well as the formal outlets, there is also some trade from peoples’ homes.

Consumers tend to buy according to price rather than quality. The cheaper the better. Some consumers do not like fish head on and prefer chunks. Ghanaians and Nigerians are the main consumers of ‘herrings’ (flat sardinella, Sardinella maderensis).

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