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A recent survey shows that some consumers are still concerned about eating farmed fish. At the same time, they are willing to pay a little more for sustainable food and seafood when they eat out.

In a recent Mintel survey of more than 1,900 U.S. restaurant patrons, only 25 percent of consumers believe that farmed fish is the same quality as wild fish. In addition, only 33 percent agree with the statement: “farmed fish is as safe as wild fish.” Mintel executives do not know why consumers have a lower quality and safety perception of farmed versus wild fish.

However, the Mintel report also found out that 57 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for local and sustainable food. 

“There is a willingness to pay more for local and sustainable, because there is a higher quality perception. With sustainability, you are also paying it forward a bit. We may not be able to pay a lot more for our energy usage, but we can support those companies that fit with our ideals a little more easily,” said Eric Giandelone, director of research for Mintel Foodservice in Chicago.

Consumers are also willing to pay more for seafood from their region, such as Louisiana seafood or Gulf of Mexico seafood, to support the local community, said Giandelone.

However, buying local seafood is still not top of mind for many restaurant-goers, possibly because many live in landlocked states, according to Giandelone. In Mintel survey, restaurant patrons said that buying local vegetables was most important to them, followed by fruit, chicken, beef and fish. 

While 57 percent of restaurant guests said they would pay 1 to 5 percent more for sustainable and local food, 18 percent said they are willing to pay 6 to 10 percent more, “which could allow foodservice establishments to offer select items with a cost markup,” said the Mintel report.

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