Consumers’ misconceptions affect sales of organic fish
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In late September, during the OrAqua project at Aquaculture Europe, Pirjo Honkanen, who holds a Ph.D in marketing from the Department of Social Science and Marketing at the Norwegian College of Fishery Science, revealed the results of her survey headed by Nofima. For several years Honkanen has been studying consumers’ attitudes toward genetically modified, organic and sustainable food, and seafood in particular, according to The Fish Site.
Although the market for organic food has grown in the EU over the last few years, organic sea food remains a small business in Europe even at times when the organic sector is in permanent expansion. Out of 1.4 million tons of Europe’s combined salmon production, only 20,000 tons is organic, which equates to for 1.4%.
The study deals with European consumers’ perceptions and understanding of organic fish. The survey aims to promote consumer confidence and acceptance of organic aquaculture principles. For the study 500 respondents from each of the largest markets for organic seafood in Europe had to answer an online survey. The participants were from Germany, UK, France and Italy. At least 25 percent of the survey participants were organic buyers.
When asked about what the key factors of organic production were, the opinions were inconsistent and showed confusion from the buyers’ side. The criteria were that organic fish should be living in natural conditions, not having been exposed to chemicals and that synthetic additives were prohibited.
One of the survey’s key findings is that many consumers don’t actually know what organic fish is. Many people have misconceptions that organic fish means wild fish and therefore confuse organic with natural. “Organic aquaculture is nothing new, but has only relatively recently been subject to specific regulation at the EU level. When we reveal the consumers’ ideas of organic fish, we can see that they’re not in line with the regulations,” Pirjo Honkanen says.
Honkanen explains the low production and consumption of organic seafood in Europe based on the price difference compared with to conventional fish, the lack of availability, lack of marketing and awareness and confusion with other eco-labels. According to Honkanen,the European regulations need to be improved and revised.