Consumer knowledge gaps impeding seafood sales, AECOC study finds

AECOC Seafood Sector Head Angels Segura giving a presentation about the associations new report on seafood.

A study of seafood consumers by La Asociación de Fabricantes y Distribuidores (AECOC) – a Spanish association with thousands of member companies across multiple sectors, including seafood – has revealed the ongoing challenges the sector faces in the face of inflation. The study also offers suggestions on how seafood can be better marketed to consumers.

Part of the study's findings were presented at Seafood Expo Global, which took place from 25 to 27 April in Barcelona Spain. The session, “Seafood Consumer & Retail Trends,” gave a snapshot of some of the information in the report, which gathered data from over 1,000 member-companies in different countries. SeafoodSource will be the exclusive source for the full AECOC report, which will be available later in 2023.

AECOC Seafood Sector Head Angels Segura said the seafood industry faces many large challenges this year. Seafood consumption trends are being affected by inflationary pressures on family budgets, causing shifts in purchasing.

“The food basket is being affected, the consumption habits are being affected, and among the fresh products seafood is very much affected because of the high perception of price for these products,” Segura said.

While the specific trends vary from country to country, around the globe, fresh seafood is not selling as well as it was in prior years. However, value-added products and frozen products are seeing better results than fresh seafood. 

Underpinning the trend, Segura said, is a continued disconnect between consumers and the seafood products available to them.

“We have many challenges in this category,” she said. “We have a high perception of a high price, more nowadays because of inflation. We have a lack of knowledge about this product – we don’t know about species, we don’t know about fisheries or aquaculture, we don’t know how to cook, how to prepare, and how to buy seafood. There is this feeling of inconvenience.” 

As the world moves past the Covid-19 pandemic and people’s lives continue to get busier, convenience is an important factor for consumers, making those knowledge gaps a significant barrier to selling more seafood, according to Segura.

Through its research, AECOC found a huge range of ways that many retailers and marketers are overcoming some of those knowledge barriers and perceptions of unaffordability or inconvenience, Segura said. Segura offered a number of examples found through the study, including one retailer in the U.K. that sold a box containing several types of seafood at a reasonable price. Giving customers more-familiar seafood options alongside ones they may not be familiar with can help buyers feel comfortable spending, as there’s still a perception they're not wasting money on something they don’t know how to cook, according to Segura.

Separately, a retailer in Norway  offers a 30 percent discount on fresh fish on Tuesdays, with occasional added incentives and educational materials on offer for buyers.

One retailer found a deceptively simple way of enhancing customer experiences at the fresh seafood counter: It put ... 

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource

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