“New Study Shows Humane Farming Opens Opportunities to Increase Seafood Consumption in the US,” which was released in conjunction with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA)’s GOAL 2018 conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from Sept. 25 to 27.
Embargoed for Release on September 26, 2018
New Study Shows Humane Farming Opens Opportunities to Increase Seafood Consumption in the US
But Aquaculture Faces Risks to Trust from Lack of Understand Among Customers and Consumers
Quito— A new study by Changing Tastes and Datassential previewed during the GAA GOAL conference found that humane production practices can play a key role in expanding the market for farmed fish and seafood in the U.S. Humane Aquaculture: Opportunities on the Plate assessed how humane production practices influence the choices of both the US consumer and also individuals responsible for menu and purchasing decisions in the US Foodservice Industry.
The study found that both half of consumers and half of menu and purchasing decision makers are more likely to purchase fish and seafood that is humanely harvested. More than half of all consumers and decision makers also believe that humanely produced fish and seafood is likely to be higher quality, taste better and have better texture.
“Humane production practices may increase the attractiveness of farmed fish and seafood both to US consumers and to the businesses that purchase it and offer or serve it to them,” said Arlin Wasserman of Changing Tastes. “Increasing the attractiveness of farmed fish and seafood can create meaningful opportunities over the next several years.” In an earlier study, Changing Tastes found that US consumers are on trend to reduce about 20% of beef consumption by 2025.
“In recent prior studies, we looked at how American consumers want to eat, and found that nearly one in five Americans intend to reduce the amount of red meat they eat and their top choice for replacing it is fish and seafood. They also prefer wild caught fish” said Marie Molde of Datassential. “US consumers’ main concerns about eating red meat, as well as poultry, are animal welfare and antibiotic use. US consumers now have the same concerns about eating fish and seafood, probably because of what they know about meat and poultry.”
The Humane Aquaculture study also found that US consumers and decision makers are most aware and concerned about live slaughter and antibiotic use for both wild capture and farmed fish. Consumers are much less aware of other production practices, like stunning, transport, and clipping. Consumer and operator concern about humane treatment increases once they become aware of these practices.
“Adopting humane practices in aquaculture and avoiding the use of antibiotics directly addresses consumer concerns about eating more fish and seafood. Humane slaughter practices may even make farmed fish and seafood more attractive than wild-caught choices,” said Wasserman. “While adopting humane practices and eliminating antibiotic use can improve the US market for fish and seafood, not making improvements may pose a risk to the industry’s reputation and the appeal of farmed fish and seafood.”
The Humane Aquaculture study also found that about half of all decision makers and consumers aren’t sure what practices the aquaculture industry or the wild capture fish industry currently use, but over a quarter believe that humane practices are in place and followed. It also found that over 70% of consumers and decision makers believes that popular rating and certification programs like Seafood Watch, BAP, ASC, and GLOBALG.A.P. all include some or all humane practices.
“Our study found that aquaculture industry currently benefits from lack of awareness among consumers and decision makers as well as a bit of a halo effect. Many consumers and decision believe that the aquaculture industry has already adopted humane practices and that sustainably certified and rated fish and seafood are produced using humane practices. But if consumers or menu and purchasing decision makers decide that’s not true, they may quickly change their tastes to favor other types of food,” said Wasserman. “It’s early days for the aquaculture industry and it can avoid many of the challenges that suppliers of other proteins have experienced. It’s also easier to invest in better practices in order to increase sales rather than respond to criticism and declines.”