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New ASC Research Reveals Shoppers Rely on Trusted Certification Labels

April 8, 2024

ASC has completed its largest and most comprehensive consumer research to date, interviewing more than 15,000 consumers in 14 different countries about their perception and consumption of seafood through an independent market research agency. The survey revealed the following insights into consumer behavior:

Continued demand for fish and seafood

87% of consumers interviewed acknowledge that including fish and seafood in their daily shopping is quite important or very important. Unsurprisingly, price is a top consideration for people when grocery shopping and notably when shopping for seafood.

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%.

More than half of U.S. (51%) and Danish (52%) consumers think it is very important to include fish and seafood in their food shopping.

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 prioritize food they enjoy in their budget, even when budgets are stretched.


Sustainability labels chosen for health and safety credentials

We know that shoppers want to buy and enjoy tasty, healthy fish and seafood, but what are their views on sustainability?

According to the survey, 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, including seafood that:

  • Is free of antibiotics and chemicals (46%)
  • Comes from a healthy place with good water conditions (35%)
  • 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 North America and Southern Europe. Italy has the highest percentage of consumers who choose sustainable products when there is a choice (82%) while Japan has the lowest (48%).

Figure 2. Consumers from North West Europe have the highest consideration for sustainability when shopping for seafood followed by North America and Southern Europe


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.

This underscores the importance for shoppers to receive a prompt in the supermarket that brings sustainability to the front of their minds.


Independent certification programs are trusted the most

The importance of reliable and independent certification programs is clear in the research, suggesting that trusted certification labels can be the perfect prompt for shoppers during their retail journey.

When asked about trustworthiness of sources of information, consumers trust independent certification programs the most (21%) – even more than environmental organizations, seafood brands, retail brands or other sources.

The data shows that consumers associate certification labels with higher-quality fish/seafood and safety.

ASC most recognized and trusted farmed seafood label

Consumers have a choice of certification labels when choosing farmed seafood products – sometimes too many, which can lead to ecolabel fatigue at store shelves.

According to the independent research, ASC is the most recognized farmed seafood label in all countries surveyed, scoring significantly higher than other responsible farmed seafood program labels. It is clear that consumers want a source and a label they can trust.

Awareness of the ASC label is highest in Germany and the Netherlands, followed by the U.S., Canada and Sweden.

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.

The Future of Farmed Seafood

Willem de Bruijn, ASC Senior Director Markets and Communications said, “The results from this survey reveal some interesting insights into how consumers shop for seafood and what informs their buying choices.

“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.

“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.

“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 recognized and trusted label in all countries included in the survey.

“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.”

About the survey

ASC tracks global and regional progressions of seafood shopper awareness, attitudes, trust and activation relating to responsibly farmed seafood and the ASC certification and labeling program

The research completed most recently is the newest in a series of a biennial, multi-market, quantitative study. The fieldwork for it was conducted between November to December 2023 via online consumer panels, conducted by the independent market research agency, The Conversation Studio.

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 U.S.

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