Americans Willing to Pay For Sustainable Seafood According to Study

Pike's Place Market seafood
Pike’s Place Market in Seattle (credit: Kris Arnold,

Knowing where your food comes from used to be a given as you were likely the one growing and raising it. Fast-forward about a hundred years and it could be from a rusty processing plant halfway across the world. Fortunately consumers have begun to ask questions and demand a standard, sometimes even a story, from the source of their food.

The “farm to table” movement harnessed such momentum for promoting local veggies, eggs bought at a farmers market, and even chicken cutlets from a butcher who you know by name. Seafood as a sector has been a little slower, considering the interwoven global industry that it is, but sure enough eco-labels have etched out a place in supermarkets to educate the consumer and declare a standard.

But it has remained a question for some time whether consumers actually care. Well a new study from Cargill Feed4Thought shows that yes, Americans are indeed willing to pay more for seafood that is certified as sustainably and responsibly sourced. As a matter of fact, 88% of Americans are willing to pay more for such seafood. Over 1,000 U.S. residents responded to the survey, which found that 72% believe seafood is important to their health, and 88% are willing to pay more for certifiably responsible and sustainable products. This was pronounced in the millennial generation, with 93% willing to pay more.

In the U.S., seafood demand is higher than ever before, making it the number one importer of seafood in the world. Considering the significant market United States consumers represent, if they continue demanding sustainable and responsible seafood there is reason to believe the suppliers or exporters (such as China, Viet Nam, Thailand) will begin working to fulfill such standards.

The world’s fish stocks are experiencing more pressure than ever with over 7 billion humans to feed, many of whom find their source of protein primarily from seafood. In order to continue meeting this demand, fish will have to be farmed. Cargill, the group who conducted this study, produces feed for salmon, tilapia and shrimp in 18 countries, and works to meet customer demand for high standards by meeting the requirements of a number of industry certifications.


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