Farmed or wild fish? Segmenting European consumers based on their beliefs

Laura López-Mas, Anna Claret, Machiel J. Reinders, Marija Banovic, Athanasios Krystallis, Luis Guerrero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Wild fish cannot meet the global demand of fish, making aquaculture the most suitable alternative to support increase in fish consumption. However, farmed fish have a less positive image among consumers than their respective wild-caught equivalents. Food product images can be affected by consumers' beliefs, which are useful to infer the quality of the food product and the consumers' food choices. This paper investigates European consumers' beliefs regarding farmed versus wild fish. The goal is to understand not only what hinders farmed fish consumption but also provide guidelines for producers and governments to improve the image of farmed fish. An online questionnaire reaching 2511 consumers in five European Union (EU) countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) assessed 19 beliefs. The results showed that European consumers believed that wild fish had a higher quality, but that farmed fish were superior in terms of control, price, and availability. Even though most consumers were in favour of wild fish, they reported higher consumption of farmed fish, suggesting that positive perceptions of products do not necessarily drive higher consumption. European consumers also believed that farmed fish were less fresh and contained higher concentrations of antibiotics than wild fish. These inferential beliefs that view aquaculture negatively should be addressed in future marketing campaigns to transform them into informational beliefs. Promotional and marketing campaigns should reinforce the positive attributes of farmed fish, including their lower levels of chemical hazards (e.g. heavy metals and marine pollutants) and biological hazards (e.g. parasites). Based on the assessed beliefs, consumers were categorised into five clusters of individuals: pro-wild fish, slightly pro-wild fish, balanced view, open to aquaculture, and pro-aquaculture. The identification of these consumer segments and their profiles should help producers and marketers focus their efforts to enhance the image of the aquaculture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735992
JournalAquaculture
Volume532
Early online date3 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Aquaculture
  • Consumer perception
  • Cross-cultural
  • Farmed fish
  • Food attribute
  • Wild fish

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