In conjunction with the Global Aquaculture Alliance, The Fishin’ Company presented the preliminary results of a consumer survey at the GAA membership and update meeting at Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, on March 16.

Administered by The Fishin’ Company and fielded by Field Agent, the survey consisted of more than 40 questions on a variety of topics, including farmed vs. wild seafood, country of origin and sustainability. More than 500 U.S. seafood consumers nationwide were polled.

Nearly half (47%) of survey respondents have a negative perception of farmed seafood due to product quality, food-safety concerns and environmental concerns. However, a negative perception of aquaculture doesn’t necessarily translate to purchasing behavior, as a mere 5% of survey respondents indicated that they buy only wild seafood.

When survey respondents asked about their perceptions of aquaculture, the results were mixed. But a higher-than-expected percentage of survey respondents understand the role of aquaculture in feeding the world’s growing population.

“Native fish populations are being overfished and farming is more sustainable,” said one respondent.

“In a controlled environment, food safety is more certain,” said another respondent.

When survey respondents were asked about their familiarity with the various seafood labels, including GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) label, the majority were unfamiliar with them, ranging from 69% to 81%, depending on the label.

The preliminary results of the survey were presented by Matt Brooker, senior category manager with The Fishin’ Company, who took the lead on creating the survey.

Robert Fields, senior director for fresh meat, seafood and gourmet deli for Sam’s Club, and Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood for M&J Seafood/Brakes Group — the two newest members of GAA’s board of directors — were on hand to share their thoughts on the survey results. Both Fields and Berthet agreed that, though 47% of survey respondents have a negative perception of seafood, that the perception of aquaculture is improving and that a big opportunity exists to better educate consumers on the role of responsible aquaculture in feeding the world’s growing population.

The full survey results will be presented at GAA’s GOAL 2015 conference in Vancouver, Canada, from Oct. 26 to 29, and a 40-page report will be available to GOAL 2015 attendees. The Fishin’ Company is a sponsor of GOAL 2015.

Interested in receiving the report? Register now for GOAL 2015.