© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Aquaculture provides more than half of the global seafood production and offers a wide diversity of high-quality products. However, its social acceptability is still not well established. The goal of this study was to determine the perceptions of aquaculture by different stakeholders along the seafood value chain in the Barcelona metropolitan area. The methodology used was based on a two-phase qualitative approach: the nominal group technique (NGT) and the Delphi survey. In the NGT phase, three groups, wholesalers, fishmongers and consumers, the latter divided into two subgroups according to the frequency of consumption of seafood, were used to collect and rank positive and negative perceptions about aquaculture. This information was subsequently used to build the questionnaire for the Delphi survey, which involved a group of experts from the board of the Wholesalers' Association, Fishmongers' Guild board and consumers' associations. Results showed that among the different stakeholders the highest concordance in positive aspects of aquaculture products included market issues and the stable quality of farmed products. On the other hand, the highest concordance in negative aspects included the lack of sufficient information about aquaculture, which was a serious issue for all stakeholders, and quality. Globally, animal welfare and environmental impact issues were not of much concern, although they included some minor positive and negative perceptions. The diversity of opinions among experts on certain aspects further emphasizes the need for more information, as they could have a potential role as information prescribers to consumers. We argue that information campaigns can take advantage of the positive perception of market issues (convenience, price, diversity) and quality stability to create a favourable predisposition towards aquaculture and thus help to introduce other problems in which perceptions generate a stronger debate. In communication or marketing campaigns, it is essential to highlight the quality and safety of farmed products, with a particular emphasis on the quality of fish feed as a guarantee of optimal nutritional and organoleptic properties of aquaculture products. Welfare and environment generate minor negative perceptions, so they should appear in campaigns, with a firm focus on the sustainability of the aquaculture sector, to improve its general image. In summary, the results of this study contribute to identifying the most relevant aspects to be taken into account to improve the public perception of aquaculture in the Barcelona area and may be of help in the design of similar efforts elsewhere.
|Publication status||Published - 15 Aug 2019|
- Aquaculture perception
- Communication strategy
- Seafood value chain