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Live carp – controversial sale. Do Polish stores still offer it?

As consumers progress, they become more aware. Today, more and more often they choose framed pieces of fish that you only need to properly prepare. Not only does it significantly improve the creation of one of the most important dishes for Christmas Eve, but it also saves the fish a lot of stress. Besides, is it really enjoyable to kill and trim a carp by yourself? Holidays in themselves require a lot of preparation, their multiplication in the name of tradition does not smile at all of us.

Live carp – customers say no!

The first clear response to customer expectations came from the largest retail chains. For several years now, more stores have been withdrawing live fish from sale, and subsequent stores have announced that they will take such steps. It cannot be denied that this is the right thing to do. Not so long ago, in the pre-Christmas period, the network was full of videos that showed the conditions in which fish were kept in supermarkets. In the vast majority of cases, unfortunately, these were tight pools literally stuffed with fish. The water was often unchanged, and there were even cases of dead fish in the tank. The transport of fish home – in plastic bags – also left a lot to be desired in terms of animal welfare.

Carp on the Christmas Eve table – a tradition that is disappearing?

In December 2020, the Open Cages association published a report Live carp withdrawal from sale. Changes in the trade industry*. The published information may surprise you!

As many as 59% of Poles believe that selling live fish in shops is not appropriate and does not provide the animals with appropriate conditions (14.9% had no opinion). Surprisingly few people buy carp for Christmas – only 54.7% of respondents declared the presence of this fish on the Christmas table, and in the 18–29 age group it was only 39.9%.

When asked what form they buy carp, 42.2% of respondents replied that they choose previously prepared pieces of meat. 28% chose slaughtered fish just before purchase, and 29.8% preferred to take home live fish. This is still a lot, but research from 2010 shows that back then 40 to 50% of customers chose live fish **! This is a big change that gives hope that in a few years’ time the sale of carp in supermarkets will concern only preserves.

What awaits the carp in the future?

Carp is definitely a fish that is bred in Poland almost exclusively for sale in the pre-Christmas period (at that time, fishing farms record even 80-85% of the turnover from the sale of these fish). Even today, decisive moves on the part of retail chains are prompting breeders to rely on processing, not selling live fish. Probably in the near past, buying live fish will be possible only directly in farms, and not all of them – and this will definitely limit the availability of live carps for customers.

The resignation from the sale of live fish in the pre-Christmas period is the response of the chain of stores to the expectations of consumers. Every year, Polish society is becoming more aware of the conditions in which animals are bred. Today, in 2021, the vast majority of the largest retail chains have withdrawn from selling live fish, and more and more brands are also giving up, for example, eggs from cage farming. It remains to be hoped that this trend will continue, and breeders and consumers will begin to pay more attention to the conditions under which farm animals live.

As the editor of the Zwierzaki website, we strongly support the ban on the sale of live carps in supermarkets.

* Open Cages, Live carp withdrawal from sale. Changes in the trade industry

**A. Kreft, R. Zabrocki, Attitudes and behaviors of Tri-City consumers on the carp market