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Sustainable Seafood Purchasing in Sweden - Unpacking Drivers and Barriers
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose - This study focuses on drivers and barriers for furthering consumer driven demand for eco-labeled seafood in Sweden. The purpose was to increase the understanding of two internal variables identified in earlier work as particularly important for pro-environmental seafood consumption: (1) concern for negative environmental impacts from seafood production and (2), recognition and understanding of seafood eco-labels.

Design/methodology/approach - Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 15 seafood consumers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Findings - The majority expressed concern about how seafood is produced but few stated that they buy eco-labeled seafood. A number of potential barriers against increased consumer demand for eco-labeled seafood were delineated: (i) limited knowledge of how seafood is produced, (ii) lack of affective narratives stimulating concern, (iii) animal welfare is less of a concern for seafood in comparison to other animal sourced foods, (vi) lack of familiarity with seafood eco-labels, and (v) a mismatch between motives for eco-labeled food purchase and criteria for eco-labeled seafood.

Practical implications - The results suggest that consumer demand likely is a limited driver for a transformation towards seafood sustainability. The burden of responsibility for environmentally sound seafood production may therefore need to be shifted towards large market actors and governmental institutions.

Originality/value - To the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to investigate internal drives and barriers for increased demand for eco-labeled seafood in Sweden. Moreover, qualitative studies on consumer perceptions of sustainable seafood have to date been rare. 

Keyword [en]
eco-labeling, certification, seafood, pro-environmental behavior, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132675OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132675DiVA: diva2:953726
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE-2011-38
Available from: 2016-08-18 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Kind of turquoise: Effects of seafood eco-certification and sustainable consumption
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Kind of turquoise: Effects of seafood eco-certification and sustainable consumption
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aquaculture and fisheries hold promise for supplying a growing world population with healthy food produced without undermining the earth’s carrying capacity. However, just as livestock production and agriculture, seafood production can have negative environmental impacts and if a continuous or even increased supply is to be guaranteed, the pressure on affected ecosystems needs to be limited. Due in part to a perceived failure of other governance mechanisms in improving the environmental performance of the sector, a large number of voluntary market based standards for farmed and wild caught seafood have been developed. Nonetheless, the knowledge base on the extent to which implementation leads to environmental improvements remains limited. Moreover, the role of consumers in driving demand for eco-labeled seafood is presently an under-researched area. This thesis aims at reducing this knowledge gap through an examination of the potential environmental effectiveness of aquaculture eco-certification and internal, psychological variables predicted to be of importance for sustainable seafood consumption. Put differently, what is the potential of eco-certification in greening the blue revolution and fuel ‘turquoise growth’, and how can consumer demand be spurred?

In Paper I, the role of eco-certification in improving the growing aquaculture sector at large was explored. Results showed that environmental effects at global scale likely will be limited due to e.g. partial coverage of species groups and environmental impacts, and a lack of focus on Asian markets and consumers. In Paper II the environmental performance of eco-certified and non-certified mangrove-integrated shrimp farms in Vietnam was compared by using Life Cycle Assessment and put in relation to conventional, more intensive farms. While there was no substantial difference between certified and non-certified farms in terms of environmental impacts, emissions of greenhouse gasses were higher for mangrove-integrated than conventional farms due to mangrove land use change. The results from Paper III demonstrated that the body of literature investigating ecological effects of seafood eco-certification is limited. ‘Spatially explicit ecosystem service information’ (ES-information) on e.g. key ecosystem services and biodiversity in a given area is suggested to have potential to improve sustainability standards. Taking guidance from the pro-environmental behavior literature, consumers in Stockholm, Sweden were consulted on awareness of and attitudes towards eco-labeled seafood (Paper IV-V). Two variables, concern for environmental impacts and knowledge about seafood eco-labels were the best predictors for stated eco-labeled seafood purchasing. Moreover, there seemed to be a misalignment between consumers’ expectations on eco-labeled food in general and certification requirements for eco-labeled seafood.

From this set of findings, a number of improvements of current seafood eco-certification are suggested. First, include an LCA-perspective in standards to a higher degree than presently done and provide readily available ES-information in the implementation and evaluation phase of certification. Second, introduce standardized mechanisms for capturing potential environmental improvements over time. And finally, stimulate demand by targeting Asian consumers and markets as well as strengthen consumer eco-label awareness and emotional involvement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2016. 65 p.
Keyword
eco-certification, eco-labeling, seafood, aquaculture, shrimp, LCA, consumer behavior
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132676 (URN)978-91-7649-486-8 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2016-10-07, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Frescativägen 20, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE-2011-38
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 5: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2016-09-14 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-14Bibliographically approved

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