The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has completed its most comprehensive consumer survey to date, surveying more than 12,000 consumers in 12 different countries about their perception and consumption of seafood. Here’s what we discovered:
Health: the #1 reason to buy seafood
In all 12 markets, health is the main driver for consumers buying seafood, with Germany and France leading this trend. More than 80% of consumers agree that it is important for health reasons to include fish in their daily shopping. That trend is highest in Spain, with almost full consensus (96%) and lowest in the Netherlands – still with a strong consensus of 80%. However, consumers also love seafood for its taste, which was the second listing, and see it as a crucial part of a balanced diet.
Huge potential to be a sustainable source of animal protein
The research shows that most consumers – between 75% and 89% depending on the market – believe that the seafood industry has the potential to be sustainable and responsible, demonstrating the potential of seafood as an environmentally friendly source of animal protein. However, this potential is not yet fully realized: more than half currently do not see it as sustainable. Consumers in countries with a stronger sensitivity to sustainability – the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France – often think that the seafood industry is less sustainable and less responsible than consumers in other countries.
Certification schemes at the heart of improving seafood sustainability
While consumers are unhappy with the current level of sustainability in the seafood industry, they largely agree that they can play a role in improving it. Three to four in five respondents indicate that buying responsible seafood has a positive effect on the oceans. The importance of certification schemes to promote the sustainability of the fishing industry is evident in the study. The most trusted sources of consumer information about seafood sustainability and responsibility are independent certification programs that put their labels on seafood packaging, more so than environmental organizations, seafood brands, retail brands, or other sources.
ASC: growing in global awareness
For farmed seafood, ASC is the most recognized certification scheme, with the highest exposure in the Netherlands, where two-thirds of respondents recognize the ASC label, followed by Belgium (60%), Germany (58%), France (48%) and the United States. States (46%). Research also shows that trust in the ASC label is generally high, with trust rates ranging from 68% in France to 80% and higher in Italy, UK, US and Australia. In addition, the majority associate the ASC logo with sustainability and responsibility.
Need more information and activation
The research also finds that while sustainability is a top priority when purchasing seafood, consumers may not be buying responsibly as often as they can. Freshness and cost are the two most important considerations for consumers when asked unsolicited what their requirements are when buying seafood. Durability is the third most common requirement.
When asked whether they prefer wild or farmed seafood, consumers prefer game, especially in Spain and France. However, an almost equal number of consumers have no preference between wild or farmed, especially in Japan, but also in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. The survey also shows that more information is needed to address consumer concerns and misconceptions about farmed seafood.
About the survey
ASC monitors the global and regional progress of seafood buyers’ awareness, attitude, confidence and activation regarding responsibly farmed seafood and the ASC certification and labeling program.
The most recently completed survey is the second wave of a biennial, multi-market, quantitative survey. The fieldwork for this was conducted between December 23, 2021 and January 24, 2022 via online consumer panels.
About 1,000 consumers in each country were surveyed: the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China and Japan. It is the most comprehensive consumer survey conducted by ASC since its inception in 2010.
About the ASC
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent non-profit organization co-founded in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) to manage certification of responsible aquaculture around the world.
The ASC standards require business performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements. Certification is through an independent third-party process and reports are uploaded to the ASC public website.
The ASC logo on the packaging guarantees consumers that the fish they buy has been farmed with minimal impact on the environment and society.
For more information about ASC, visit www.asc-aqua.org.