Food safety and environmental sustainability priorities for Chinese consumers buying seafood
The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) recently conducted a survey among Chinese consumers to better understand their purchasing decisions, as well as the influence and awareness of the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) label in the country. According to respondents' answers when asked which issues are of most concern during the production process, food safety and environmental sustainability ranked first and second, respectively.
Willing to pay more for certified seafood
On behalf of the GSA, a third-party surveyed a total of 3,403 consumers in China to learn about their seafood consumption habits and the factors they consider when purchasing seafood. Of these, approximately two-thirds were born in 1990 or later.
According to the results, more than one-third of respondents eat seafood at least twice a week at present. In addition, almost all of them believe that seafood is a healthier choice than other animal proteins. As said, as to what issues they are most concerned about during the production process, food safety ranked first, followed by environmental sustainability.
Chinese consumers also indicated that, now that COVID restrictions have been lifted in the country, they will return to traditional supermarkets and markets to buy seafood, while the number of people buying take-out food will decrease.
In a similar survey also conducted by the GSA last year, price, hygiene, and food safety, were priorities for the Chinese to buy seafood. This year, in contrast, the survey shows that they are willing to pay more for seafood products from third-party audited producers. In fact, nearly three-quarters of respondents, about 71%, said they cared enough to pay at least RMB 1 (EUR 0.12 – USD 0.13) more to buy a product with additional guarantees.
A third recognize the BAP label
"This shows that having the BAP label on seafood packaging can provide an advantage for producers in the marketplace," said the Global Seafood Alliance in presenting the results. The survey also asked consumers if they recognized this BAP label. Some 30% said they had seen the logo before, and more than half said they are more likely to buy seafood products if the packaging includes it.
"We've been working hard to promote the BAP logo in the Chinese market because we know consumers there are looking for assurances of responsible seafood," said GSA's VP of market development, Steve Hart. "To see our logo recognition at almost 30 percent speaks to just how important these issues are to Chinese consumers."
Finally, when asked which parts of the production chain should be audited, approximately half of the respondents answered that it should be the entire aquaculture production chain, which includes the processing plant, farm, hatchery, and feed mill. The results are a sign of the awareness of seafood sustainability in China, both in aquaculture and fisheries, which has recently been reflected in important government decisions as well.
These include the promotion of the entire off-shore aquaculture chain and the historic signing of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies that prohibits countries from supporting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, support for fishing of overfished stocks, and also ends subsidies for fishing on the high seas (unregulated international waters).
About Global Seafood Alliance
The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) is an international non-profit trade association based in Portsmouth, N.H., U.S., that promotes responsible seafood practices worldwide through education, advocacy, and demonstration. Its members include certified producers, companies, and individuals. Its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program is the world's largest and most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification. Its standards encompass food safety, environmental responsibility, social accountability, and animal health and welfare.