When it Comes to Seafood, are Consumers Shopping Their Values?

Boston, MA – A global study of seafood consumers found that 81% of North American seafood consumers agree that fish and seafood must be protected for future generations. The study also found that 70% of consumers agree that supermarkets’ and brands’ claims about sustainability should be clearly labeled by an independent organization. However, only 24% of North American shoppers notice ecolabels when they’re at the grocery store. How can we bridge the gap?

“Understanding what consumers are thinking at point of purchase is the first step in understanding how to encourage them to look for certified sustainable seafood,” said Brian Perkins, North America Director for the Marine Stewardship Council. “The MSC-commissioned GlobeScan study shares unique insights into consumers’ behaviors, ultimately helping the MSC – and the seafood industry as a whole –understand how to help consumers act on their values.”

Major findings by leading research consultancy GlobeScan will be presented and discussed during a conference session at Seafood Expo North America on March 18 in Boston. Considerations like “sustainably sourced” fall lower on consumers’ list of priorities, while things like safety, health, and price continue to rank higher on the list. Another top finding: 46% of seafood consumers list information on seafood packaging as the number one way that they would like to find out more about the sustainability of a seafood product, followed by TV/radio (35%), and advertisements (35%).

Seafood industry leaders will discuss the significance of these and other findings and the roles that brands, retailers, restaurants, and NGOs play in consumer engagement on sustainable seafood. The discussion will also attempt to unpack consumer decision making at point of purchase, the role the of the MSC’s blue fish label, and how to make sustainable seafood relevant to North American shoppers. 

Christine Burns Rudalevige, Food Writer and Journalist, will moderate the discussion, and Abbie Curtis O’Reilly, Associate Director, GlobeScan, will present the high level findings. Representation across the seafood sector, including restaurants, brands, and retailers, will provide a diversity of perspectives and will help spark discussion among audience members. Panelists include:

The goal of this session is to gain an understanding of consumer purchase motivators and market trends, and attempt to understand what the future of sustainable seafood is from the consumer perspective.


The MSC session “What Consumers Want: The Future of Sustainable Seafood takes place Monday, March 18 at 12:45 PM in Room 153 A/B in the Boston Convention Center. Registration is required to attend SENA conference sessions. Details about the session here.

Session panelists and MSC spokespeople will be available following the session for questions and interviews. MSC spokespeople will also be available at Booth 2365.

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The MSC is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable fisheries and seafood. Check restaurant menus, the frozen and canned goods aisles, the fresh fish case, the supplements section, and even the pet food aisle for the blue fish.

Look for the blue fish on your seafood:

  • It’s simple: An easy way to identify ocean-friendly, sustainable seafood.
  • Eat well: Know that your seafood is as good for the oceans as it is for you.
  • Feel good: Support fishermen, fishing communities, and companies that care as much as you do.
  • Rest easy: Know exactly where your seafood comes from.

More than 300 fisheries in over 34 countries are certified to the MSC’s Standard. These fisheries have a combined annual seafood production of 12 million metric tons, representing 15% of global marine catch. More than 35,000 seafood products worldwide carry the MSC label. For more information visit www.msc.org and follow @MSCBlueFish on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for regular updates.

The MSC program could not exist without the many fishers around the world who work to safeguard stocks, ecosystems, and their own livelihoods. Read stories about fishermen working hard to safeguard our oceans.