Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Purchasing Seafood

Consumer interest in sustainable seafood is lackluster and overshadowed by food safety, according to the results of a consumer survey discussed at the Seafood Business Summit: Consumer Insights on Sustainable Seafood at the International Boston Seafood Show.

The online survey, which polled more than 1,000 consumers, was conducted by the Perishables Group of West Dundee, Ill., in conjunction with Diversified Business Communications of Portland, Maine, which publishes SeaFood Business magazine and SeafoodSource.com.

Survey respondents were asked to rank various factors influencing their purchasing decisions, and “environmental friendliness” ranked No. 6. Food safety ranked 1, followed by type of fish 2 and price at 3.

“With this presentation it’s pretty clear that consumers lack understanding of, or are confused about, sustainable seafood,” added Matthew Owens, director of operations for FishWise, a Santa Cruz, Calif., organization that works with retailers to develop and implement sustainable seafood purchasing policies.

“Based on that, some critics might say that this stuff is a waste of time. But that’s pretty shortsighted for several reasons,” he said. “First, the topic is vital to the future [seafood] supply. Second, the younger generation is the most aware, and they’re going to dominate the marketplace in the future. Third, knowledgeable consumers eat more seafood. And, fourth, we’re at this critical stage between the early adopters and [sustainable seafood] becoming fairly mainstream, and at that stage the first movers have the advantage and other companies are going to get left behind. Sustainable seafood is here to stay, and it’s pretty important that we start to understand what’s resonating with consumers.”

For an easy to use guide to purchasing resposable seafood also explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list of everything seafood and sustainable.


Blue Ribbon Fish said...

Very interesting topic! I attended this presentation and am continually trying to learn as much as possible. I just re-did our fish sheet to reflect the Best Choices and Good Alternatives of Monterey Bay. While I may not agree 100% with all of their designations, I do think it is an excellent starting point and definitely a step in the right direction.

Michael Walsh said...

Personally, I love the idea of sustainable seafood, and in an environment where your customers are consciance of these things and they matter to the customer you are very lucky. Unfortunatly for me right now I'm in a situation where selling Chilien Sea Bass for $32 a pop is a whole lot better than throwing away #5 of barimundi at the end of the week because nobody orders it. And I love barimundi, my second fav. fish to sturgen, both of which are respoasible farm raised!

The troubling results of this poll and the article from which I found my information is that people don't trust that the seafood they buy is properly handeled, they stick with what they know and they don't understand the logistics and the price it takes to get that 'fresh' seafood to the table.

Scott Sebastian said...

The survey confirms most Americans don't know jack about food. The groups we travel with are the exception. No matter how hard the media tries, people like what they like.

Sturgeon and Barramundi? I can't give it away. I've finally trained my customers to like skate. Took a while.

Michael Walsh said...

I hear you loud and clear Scott. People love salmon, and in my opionon it's one of the most difficult species to like. It's heavy, has a unique flavor, and is one of the fattier fish. I just don't get it, and people don't care where or how they get their salmon. They just want it, and want it cheap...like chicken.

Skate is another great species. Skate in brown butter is a classic dish. I wouldn't sell 15 orders this week-end. What to do? Keep trying I guess. But at the end of they day we still have bills to pay, and 40 portions of farmed salmon at a 10% food cost pays the bills a lot easier than praying your 14th and 15th portions of sturgeon don't spoil by tuesday, and at a 35% food cost.