The Impact Of Health, Environmental And Social Attributes Of Salmon Choice In The United States
In recent years, U.S. consumers have increasingly sought information about the health implications of their food purchases, as well as the environmental and social impact of the food production process. While this growing consumer demand has helped facilitate the development of several seafood certification programs, no accessible public or private data shows that U.S. shoppers are willing to pay a premium for certified seafood. To estimate whether a price premium exists for current and forthcoming certifications for wild and farmed salmon producers, and to better understand U.S. consumers’ preferences for salmon, we surveyed a representative sample of 955 shoppers from the United States. We then conducted a conjoint analysis on their willingness to pay for different methods of production (wild or farmed), countries or regions of origin, the Marine Stewardship Council’s wild seafood ‘ecolabel’, and hypothetical certifications assuring that the salmon product is associated with fewer health risks, environmental impacts, or negative social issues. Of the factors which affect consumers’ salmon purchasing decisions, the combination of fresh salmon’s method of production and its region of origin is generally a stronger determinant of U.S. salmon shopper’s purchasing decisions than the salmon’s certifications. Consumers strongly favor wild salmon to farmed salmon, prefer salmon from the United States to salmon from other countries, are willing to pay the largest premiums for environmental certifications, and state they are willing to pay the lowest premium for the health and safety certification. Results show that 1) fresh salmon producers and retailers have financial incentives to display social and environmental labels at seafood counters in markets, 2) a price premium for a health and safety certification of farmed salmon would be limited, since salmon consumers are more responsive to negative than positive information related to health issues associated with the salmon that they purchase, and 3) certifying agencies, and all retailers have financial incentives to inform consumers about the benefits and risks of salmon production and consumption, because informed consumers are willing to pay more for certified fresh salmon as well as most types of uncertified fresh salmon.
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