Consumer Preferences for Sustainable Aquaculture Products: Evidence from In-depth Interviews, Think Aloud Protocols and Choice Experiments

Antje Risius, Meike Janssen, Ulrich Hamm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Fish from aquaculture is becoming more important for human consumption. Sustainable aquaculture procedures were developed as an alternative to overcome the negative environmental impacts of conventional aquaculture procedures and wild fisheries. The objective of this contribution is to determine what consumers expect from sustainable aquaculture and whether they prefer sustainable aquaculture products. A combination of qualitative research methods, with think aloud protocols and in-depth interviews, as well as quantitative methods, using choice experiments and face-to-face interviews, was applied. Data was collected in three different cities of Germany. Results revealed that sustainable aquaculture was associated with natural, traditional, local, and small scale production systems with high animal welfare standards. Overall, participants paid a lot of attention to the declaration of origin; in particular fish products from Germany and Denmark were preferred along with local products. Frequently used sustainability claims for aquaculture products were mostly criticized as being imprecise by the participants of the qualitative study; even though two claims tested in the choice experiments had a significant positive impact on the choice of purchase. Similarly, existing aquaculture-specific labels for certified sustainable aquaculture had an impact on the buying decision, but were not well recognized and even less trusted. Overall, consumers had a positive attitude towards sustainable aquaculture. However, communication measures and labelling schemes should be improved to increase consumer acceptance and make a decisive impact on consumers' buying behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquaculture
  • Claim
  • Ethical food
  • Fish
  • Label
  • Mixed methods

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