The economic, social and environmental benefits of doing business sustainably are now well established with many industries fully embracing and integrating sustainable practices. However, some industries are facing greater challenges and struggling to embrace sustainable practices. For example, within the seafood industry the issue of sustainability is highly topical with a 2016 Google search on the term ‘sustainable fish’ scoring over 8.8 million hits. Despite a groundswell of discussion and action within the seafood industry, the current literature on seafood sustainability remains emergent. Ultimately, consumers are the group that generates value for all members of the supply chain through their purchase decisions. Existing research with consumers about seafood sustainability supports that consumer’s value sustainability. However, the current research is based on the assumption that consumers have a common understanding of the term. Some exploratoryresearch has highlighted that consumers may have a very limited understanding of what sustainability means and the impact of sustainability on purchase behaviour may be overestimated (perhaps due to the limited understanding). Hence the purpose of this research was to explore consumer understandings of sustainability in relation to seafood, specifically considering how consumers define sustainability, the link between purchase intentions and behaviour and the credibility of information sources about seafood sustainability. Results of an online survey of 1,153 Australian seafood consumers indicate that 1 in 3 consumers have either no idea or an incorrect idea of what sustainability means in relation to seafood, with those consumers who are able to define sustainability considering the environmental aspect only. Sustainability is not currently impacting the purchases decisions of almost all Australian consumers for reasons including lack of knowledge of what seafood is sustainable, the higher price of sustainable seafood and a lack of information at POS. This study provides an understanding of consumer perspectives with respect to the sustainability of seafood and provides a basis for developing strategies to reduce ambiguity, promote clarity and shared understandings regarding sustainable seafood, while increasing knowledge, leading to more sustainably managed seafood supply chains.
2016 International Food Marketing Research Symposium, Bologna, Italy 13-14 June 2016
Proceedings of the 2016 International Food Marketing Research Symposium / John Stanton, Mark Lang, Maurizio Canavari (eds):