Scottish farmed salmon suppliers have hailed the sector's tremendous growth prospects as young people take to fresh salmon in a big way.

In the past 24 months, 1.4 million new consumers have entered the fresh salmon market, according to data from TNS Worldpanel.

And the growth, according to TNS, is being driven by a growing interest among younger people rather than an increase in frequency of consumption from established consumers.

Salmon has traditionally been consumed by people over the age of 45, but consumption by new, younger consumers of salmon is growing the fastest, particularly among adults aged 17-44 and children.

Males aged 17-24 have increased their consumption by 91% and females of the same age by 54%.

Total annual consumption of fresh salmon peaked at 356 million meals in 2005 compared with 301 million in 2003, a rise of 18%. Defying a customary seasonal drop in consumption, winter and spring have shown strong growth, as have summer and autumn.

Sid Patten, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, said: "This is a major achievement for the sector. This growth had been fuelled by people really taking notice of 'eat more fish' advice from the Food Standards Agency, the Joint Health Claims Initiative and the British Nutrition Foundation, together with a growing understanding of the importance of long chain Omega-3 in maintaining a healthy heart."

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