Consumer seafood preferences related to alternative food networks and their value chains
Alternative food networks (AFNs) for seafood employ different approaches along their diverse value chains, yet typically share five common attributes – supporting small-scale and place-based fishing operations through the provision of traceable, sustainable, and high-quality seafood products to customers. While a range of benefits from AFNs have been described, the potential for broad impacts of seafood AFNs remains largely unknown due to a range of constraints, including a lack of understanding of consumer preferences related to different seafood attributes, including those central to AFNs. This paper utilizes an online survey of consumers in Canada (n = 2006) to assess the potential demand for products supplied through seafood AFNs. Results indicate both barriers and opportunities for growing seafood AFNs. While respondents’ top three consumed seafood species (salmon, tuna, and shrimp) aligned with North American consumption patterns, a willingness to substitute between species was also indicated, which could present market opportunities for seafood AFNs offering a variety of product options based on local seasonality and abundance. Respondents prioritized product quality attributes situated at the consumption end of the value chain (e.g., taste, appearance, freshness, affordability, health benefits, and seafood type) over harvesting-related features (e.g., sustainability, production method, and fair compensation to harvesters). In addition, despite some degree of willingness to pay (WTP) – especially for high quality seafood – respondents were not willing to pay large price premiums for other features emphasized by seafood AFNs. Finally, different consumer segments interact differently with seafood AFNs’ five key features – for example, higher WTP was evidenced amongst younger consumers. Overall, the paper suggests that seafood AFNs should consider emphasizing their high-quality product offerings, pricing their products competitively, and targeting specific consumer segments when looking to expand into new markets.
Witter, A; Murray, G; Sumaila, UR
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