Aquaculture products are commonplace in markets around the world. However, despite efforts to minimize the negative perceptions towards aquaculture, several misbeliefs or myths still persist, and thus globally consumers tend to value wild fish more highly than farmed fish. The lack of information has been shown to be one of the most important causes of this preference, driving buying decisions to be more emotional than rational. The aim of this study was to determine whether scientific-supported information contrasting one myth could contribute to a better perception of farmed products. To that end, consensus on a series of aquaculture-related issues among different scientists, external experts, and aquaculture societies was used to build up the scientific information. This information was provided to 300 Spanish consumers using two different communication tools (150 consumers each tool): an interactive web documentary and a written and printed document, to detect possible differences in the change of consumers' perception. Consumers were asked for their degree of agreement on a set of 14 statements before and after providing the scientific information. A variable collecting the assessment of each of the statements was calculated as the Overall-perception. Possible significant differences between the scores before and after providing the information and for the ‘overall perception’ were analysed separately for each communication tool as well as for the combined sample. Possible relationship between the consumers' perception with the sociodemographic factors, the consumers' knowledge and the fish consumption habits were also assessed. Results show that consumer's perception of aquaculture before the query were moderate (5.6 average in a 0 to 10 scale) but that it increased slightly but significantly and regardless of the communication tool used. Among sociodemographic factors, age and gender were the ones that most influenced consumer's perceptions, being older people those who exhibited a generally more positive opinion towards aquaculture. The effects of consumption habits and knowledge about aquaculture were also the two most explicative factors for change in perception. Importantly, the opinion of consumers with less knowledge about seafood products in general and production methods or consuming only wild fish products, improved after being exposed to the information. These results demonstrate the utility of science- and fact-based communication campaigns to improve the societal perception of aquaculture practices and products, regardless of the tool used to transmit this information.
|Publication status||Published - 15 Nov 2021|
- Information tools
- Knowledge about aquaculture
- Seafood consumption
- Sociodemographic factors