Consumer Beliefs Regarding Farmed versus Wild Fish
This marketing study used focus groups and surveys across Spain to identify why consumers prefer wild-caught fish to farmed fish. Consumers preferred wild fish on quality measures, but did not perceive a difference between the safety of wild and farmed fish, a change from previous research. They also perceived farmed fish as cheaper and more available. Environmental or animal welfare buying considerations were not included in the study.[Abstract excerpted from original text.)
“Aquaculture is a food-producing activity, alternative to traditional extractive fishing, which still acts as a reference for most consumers. The main objective of the present paper was to study which consumer beliefs, regarding farmed versus wild fish, hinder the potential development of the aquaculture sector.
To achieve this purpose the study was organized into two complementary steps: a qualitative approach (focus groups) aimed at assessing consumer perception about wild and farmed fish and to identify the salient beliefs that differentiate them; and a quantitative approach (survey by means of a questionnaire) to validate the results obtained in the focus group discussions over a representative sample of participants (n = 919). Results showed that participants perceive clear differences between farmed and wild fish. Although no significant differences between both kinds of fish were detected on safety, in general farmed fish was perceived to be less affected by marine pollution, heavy metals and parasites. In the contrary, wild fish was considered to have healthier feeding, to contain fewer antibiotics and to be fresher, healthier, less handled and more natural. Beliefs related to quality were in favour of wild fish, while those related to availability and price were in favour of farmed fish. Significant differences were observed in the perception of both kinds of fish depending on the consumers’ objective knowledge about fish, on the level of education, age and gender and on the three segments of consumers identified: “Traditional/Conservative”, “Connoisseur”, “Open to aquaculture”. The results provided could play an important role when planning and designing efficient marketing strategies for promoting farmed fish by adapting the information provided to the perception of each segment of consumers identified by the present study.”