Concerned about sustainability?


Steven Hedlund

Published on
November 14, 2010

Concerned about sustainability?

You’re not alone. Just over half of the restaurateurs polled by SeaFood Business for this year’s foodservice survey cited sustainability among their biggest challenges, compared to just 39 percent the last time the survey was conducted in 2008. Even as the economy weathers rough seas, sustainability outranked all other challenges, including rising wholesale prices at 52 percent, sourcing/product availability at 51 percent and declining traffic/shrinking economy at 47 percent.

However, when it comes to consumers, it’s night and day. Sustainability is at the bottom of the list of factors diners consider when ordering seafood. Only 17 percent of restaurateurs said sustainability was among their customers’ biggest concerns. Six other concerns outranked sustainability, led by freshness/quality, taste and price. Even preparation, food safety and nutrition/health nudged sustainability.

The Hartman Group, a Bellevue, Wash., market research firm, also find consumers to be lacking when it comes to sustainability. In its new report, “Marketing Sustainability 2010: Bridging the Gap Between Consumers and Companies,” only 21 percent of consumers surveyed were able to identify a sustainable product and even fewer, 12 percent, were able to name specific companies as “sustainable.”

Why the gap? Sustainability is a complex concept. Foodservice operators — let alone consumers — are still working to fully grasp sustainability.

And then there’s the reluctance to pay for responsibly harvested or farmed seafood. “Consumers care about the issue but are largely unwilling to actually pay more for it,” an executive of an upscale seafood chain told me recently.

On Tuesday, I will address consumers’ lack of knowledge about sustainable seafood as I present the results of the SeaFood Business foodservice survey during a 45-minute webinar. Joining me is Joseph Sabbagh, a longtime seafood consultant and president of Sax Maritime Associates in Los Angeles, for a question-and-answer session following the presentation.

To sign up for the webinar, click here. The webinar is open only to SeafoodSource premium members. Premium membership costs USD 95 a year, which gives users access to all webinars, market reports, audio, video and best-practice guides on SeafoodSource. Upgrade to premium membership. Participants will also receive a copy of the presentation following the webinar.

Hope you can join us on Tuesday.

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