Study: Humane farming could drive US seafood demand

Liza Mayer
September 26, 2018
By
Humane slaughter practices may even make farmed fish and seafood more attractive than wild-caught choices, says study
Humane slaughter practices may even make farmed fish and seafood more attractive than wild-caught choices, says study Adobe Stock
Humane production practices can play a key role in expanding the market for farmed fish and seafood in the US but it is vital that consumers are aware of them, says a study.

“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,” says Arlin Wasserman of food industry consultant Changing Tastes, which co-authored the study with market research firm Datassential.

The study, Humane Aquaculture: Opportunities on the Plate, says 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 half of consumers and half of decision makers on what goes on the menu 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.

“Increasing the attractiveness of farmed fish and seafood can create meaningful opportunities over the next several years,” says Wasserman.   

In an earlier study, Changing Tastes found that US consumers are on trend to reduce about 20 percent of beef consumption by 2025 because of animal welfare issues and antibiotic use. They plan to replace it with fish and seafood.

“US consumers now have the same concerns about eating fish and seafood, probably because of what they know about meat and poultry,”  says Marie Molde of Datassential.

Here are the other findings of The Humane Aquaculture study:

•    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

“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,” Wasserman added.

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