Headline: Country-specific food culture and scientific knowledge transfer events – Do they influence the purchasing behaviour of seafood products?

A positive perception of aquaculture products is essential to boost production by using more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions. However, consumer perception and resulting purchasing decisions remain poorly understood. In most European countries, the consumer perception tends to be rather negative, which is reinforced by knowledge gaps and misleading information from the media. This is believed to have the greatest impact on the current low consumption rate of farmed fish across Europe. Previous research has suggested that consumers may often be reluctant to change their seafood purchasing behaviour despite having a solid scientific understanding of aquaculture products and their mode of production. In this study, we investigated the extent to which country-specific contexts and degree of scientific knowledge contribute to the purchasing behaviour of consumers across Europe. To this end, interactive poster surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted at eight different knowledge transfer events (KTEs) across three countries, targeting 383 participants. The application of a yet underutilized method, an interactive poster survey, underscored the need to use new approaches to tackle consumer behaviour.

Our results indicate that increased scientific knowledge does not lead to changes in purchasing behaviour per se. Perceptions and purchasing habits are very contextual and vary from culture to culture. This points to the highly interlinked nature of country-specific marine food culture that ranges between individual awareness, scientific knowledge, and socio-cultural contexts, all of which renders in resulting individual purchasing decisions. Our results suggest focusing more on the sustainability of a product and emphasising the ongoing transition towards a circular economy approach in the aquaculture sector may be a promising pathway to foster more sustainability-driven purchasing decisions in the seafood sector. Our findings also question whether trying to educate the public about more sustainable purchasing criteria is really the key to foster more sustainable consumption patterns or whether we are working from misleading assumptions that lead to wrong approaches. In conclusion, a lack of clear and easily accessible information appears to be the main barrier to social acceptance of sustainable aquaculture products in Europe.

Wissenschaftliche Aufsätze

Petereit, J., Hoerterer, C., & Krause, G. (2022). Country-specific food culture and scientific knowledge transfer events – Do they influence the purchasing behaviour of seafood products? Aquaculture, 560: 738590. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2022.738590.

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