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Can Consumers Understand Sustainability through Seafood Eco-Labels? A U.S. and UK Case Study

Author

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  • Alexis Gutierrez

    () (Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK)

  • Thomas F. Thornton

    () (Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK)

Abstract

In the United States and the United Kingdom, over the last decade major retail chains have increasingly publicized their efforts to supply sustainably sourced and eco-labelled seafood. Debate exists over the extent of consumer demand for this product. Seafood eco-labels purportedly resolve the information asymmetry between producer and consumer, allowing consumers who care about sustainability to easily find and purchase these products. This paper discusses the idealized model of seafood eco-labelling in promoting sustainability and presents results of US and UK case studies based on consumer interviews and surveys, which found that consumers had often seen one or more seafood eco-labels. Two well-established eco-labels, dolphin-safe and organic, drove these rates of sustainable seafood awareness. These rates are interpreted in the context of consumer’s understanding of sustainable. The Sustainable Seafood Movement’s efforts to increase the supply of eco-labelled seafood and elaborate corporate buying policies for sustainable seafood are influencing consumer’s recognition and purchase of certified sustainable seafood products. However, eco-labels are a means to communicate messages about sustainable fisheries to consumers, not an end. Efforts to educate consumers about eco-labels should be a component of ocean literacy efforts, which educate the public about the need for sustainable fisheries.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexis Gutierrez & Thomas F. Thornton, 2014. "Can Consumers Understand Sustainability through Seafood Eco-Labels? A U.S. and UK Case Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(11), pages 1-23, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:6:y:2014:i:11:p:8195-8217:d:42446
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mónica Pérez-Ramírez & Marco A. Almendarez-Hernández & Gerzaín Avilés-Polanco & Luis F. Beltrán-Morales, 2015. "Consumer Acceptance of Eco-Labeled Fish: A Mexican Case Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-18, April.
    2. Erpeng Wang & Zhifeng Gao, 2017. "Chinese Consumer Quality Perception and Preference of Traditional Sustainable Rice Produced by the Integrated Rice–Fish System," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-13, December.
    3. Kate Barclay & Alice Miller, 2018. "The Sustainable Seafood Movement Is a Governance Concert, with the Audience Playing a Key Role," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-20, January.
    4. Patrizia Gazzola & Gianluca Colombo & Roberta Pezzetti & Luminița Nicolescu, 2017. "Consumer Empowerment in the Digital Economy: Availing Sustainable Purchasing Decisions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(5), pages 1-19, April.
    5. Marco Lerro & Maria Raimondo & Marcello Stanco & Concetta Nazzaro & Giuseppe Marotta, 2019. "Cause Related Marketing among Millennial Consumers: The Role of Trust and Loyalty in the Food Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(2), pages 1-16, January.
    6. Seppo Junnila & Juudit Ottelin & Laura Leinikka, 2018. "Influence of Reduced Ownership on the Environmental Benefits of the Circular Economy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(11), pages 1-13, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    consumers; eco-label; sustainable seafood; sustainable seafood movement;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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