Consumer behaviour researchers at Campden BRI are investigating to what extent our choice of sustainable and healthy frozen fish products can be influenced by government and company interventions.
The ongoing study aims to “provide insight into good practices that would enhance perceived nutritional, health and environmental benefits of frozen fish amongst young mums (aged 18-40) and encourage them to purchase and consume more sustainable frozen fish products,” explained Michelle Chen, sensory research scientist at Campden BRI.
Sponsored in part by the Sea Fish Industry Authority, the study will also look into the most effective way of inducing these changes and at the gap between attitudes and behaviours.
Changing your mind
An example of a consumer intervention was seen in recent years when organisations such as Greenpeace International, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Seafood Watch tried to raise awareness about depleting cod stocks and encourage consumers to diversify their choice of white fish in order to alleviate this problem.
Over a 12 week period participants were encouraged to eat the recommended amount of fish, buy more frozen fish products - arguing frozen fish can be just as ‘fresh’ as fresh/chilled fish - and look out for and buy more fish with ‘sustainable’ labels and messages e.g. the MSC logo.
There were three groups of consumers recruited: group A and B were intervention groups and group C was a control group in which respondents did not receive any intervening materials nor participate in any activities. Consumers in group A and B both received leaflets via the post and web information via emails. In addition, consumers in group A were required to attend a series of four workshops.
“This type of intervention has been applied in the context of public health issues, e.g. smoking, drinking, and overeating, and can be applied to support branded product development initiatives,” Chen told FoodNavigator.
More to come
The researchers hope that the results from this study will be useful in future processes of policy change. However, they stressed that Campden BRI itself “does not play a role in lobbying for policy change. Our role is to conduct the research to assess the effectiveness of the approaches.”
The researchers hope to complete the study towards the end of the year. Campden BRI’s Member Subscription Funded Research (MSFR) will continue in the second year of the project by looking at the topic of sustainability, Chen told FoodNavigator.