ASC certified salmon on a fish counter. The ASC is the most recognised label in 14 countries surveyed for the organisation.

Consumers hooked on fish, says ASC

Global survey for certification body shows 87% of shoppers believe eating seafood is important

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Eighty seven percent of consumers interviewed in a new survey of more than 15,000 shoppers across 14 different countries acknowledge that including fish and seafood in their daily shopping is quite important or very important.

Price is a top consideration for people when grocery shopping and notably when shopping for seafood, according to the survey carried out by an independent market research agency for the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

Spain has the highest percentage of consumers who think including fish and seafood is important (92%) while the Netherlands and Japan have the lowest percentage, but still with strong agreement at 81%.

Just over half of Danish (52%) and United States (51%) consumers think it is very important to include fish and seafood in their food shopping.

Casting the net wide

Poland, Sweden, Denmark and South Korea were added to the survey this year, joining the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan. Approximately 1,000 consumers were surveyed in each country, with 2,000 surveyed in the US.

According to the survey, the main reasons consumers purchase seafood are because they enjoy eating it, and for its taste and health benefits. This indicates that consumers are willing to prioritise food they enjoy in their budget, even when budgets are stretched.


When it comes to sustainability, 83% of consumers are motivated to some degree to choose seafood with a sustainability label. Top considerations are that the product is safe and healthy for them and their families: free of antibiotics and chemicals (46%), comes from a healthy place with good water conditions (35%) and is safe to eat (30%). Social responsibility and worker welfare are less important considerations.

Sustainability as a consideration when shopping for seafood is highest in North-West Europe, followed by South Europe and North America, with Asia lowest on the list. Italy has the highest percentage of consumers who choose sustainable products when there is a choice (82%) while Japan has the lowest (48%).

The survey shows that 67% of people are interested in buying more sustainable products, yet only 2% spontaneously think about sustainability when they are shopping for fish or seafood in the supermarket.

Label can be a prompt

The ASC said certification scheme labels can prompt consumers to consider sustainability in the supermarket, and added that the importance of reliable and independent certification schemes is clear in the research.

Consumers in North West Europe have the highest consideration for sustainability when shopping for seafood.

When asked about trustworthiness of sources of information, consumers trust independent certification schemes the most (21%) - more than environmental organisations, seafood brands, retail brands or other sources.

The data shows that consumers associate certification logos with higher-quality fish/seafood and safety. The highest awareness and importance of logos for consumers is in Germany and lowest in Japan.

Most recognised

According to the survey, ASC is the most recognised farmed seafood label in all countries surveyed, scoring significantly higher than other responsible farmed seafood programme labels.

“It is clear that consumers need a source and a label they trust,” said the ASC in a press release.

Awareness of the ASC label is highest in Germany and the Netherlands, followed by Sweden, the US and Canada, and is lowest in Japan.

ASC is also the most trusted label for farmed seafood, with trust ratings ranging from around 70% in Spain and Italy to around 60% in most other countries. Additionally, the majority of respondents associate the ASC label with sustainability and responsibility, and quality and safety. The ASC label also scores better than other farmed seafood sustainability labels on being responsible, healthy, caring and relevant.

Strong demand

Willem de Bruijn, ASC senior director markets and communications, said: “The good news for the industry is that there is still strong demand for seafood because people enjoy eating it for its taste and health benefits and are willing to pay for it.

Willem de Bruijn: "Consumers want to buy sustainable and responsible fish."

“One of the most striking findings is that although two-thirds of people say they are interested in buying more sustainable products, only 2% spontaneously think about sustainability when they are shopping for fish or seafood in the supermarket.

“This clearly demonstrates that consumers want to buy sustainable and responsible fish and seafood, but need an easy visual prompt in store, such as a certification label on pack, to remind and support them to consciously act on this desire.

Trusted label

“To reach as many consumers as possible and drive sales, the farmed seafood certification label of choice should be ASC, as the research identifies it the most recognised and trusted label in all countries included in the research.

“We are proud and grateful that our continuous efforts to build the ASC brand in these markets, in cooperation with many partners, has led to the label holding this strong position in consumers’ minds.

“However, it is also clear that we need to continue educating consumers about responsibly farmed seafood, why they should choose it and the role it plays in future food security.”