What U.S. consumers want in alternative seafood products

A new survey conducted by GFI and Kelton Global showed that, in addition to excellent taste and texture, messaging about alternative seafood products’ environmental, health, and functional benefits can broaden their appeal among U.S. consumers.

There is an urgent and sizable need for new approaches to meet increasing global demand for seafood, and alternative seafood is well poised to meet that demand. However, as the alternative protein industry continues to grow, with plant-based retail sales reaching $7 million in 2020, alternative seafood remains a significant white space.  

Alternative seafood is well positioned to appeal to general consumers

Notably, a greater proportion of alternative seafood enthusiasts are flexitarian and pescatarian than the general consumer. Alternative seafood is therefore already appealing to groups beyond vegans and vegetarians. 

Alternative seafood enthusiasts are more likely to identify as flexitarian or pescatarian

Taste and texture are table stakes 

Majority of consumers cited flavor as most important, followed by food safety, tasting like conventional seafood, and texture. When asked why they might not choose alternative seafood, most consumers also cited anticipated taste and texture as barriers to choosing alternative seafood.

Environmental, health, and functional benefits messaging draws in additional consumers 

Proper messaging about alternative seafood benefits is crucial to consumer trial and adoption. 78 percent of consumers would try plant-based and cultivated seafood based on flavor messaging alone. 

Once consumers have a positive impression of alternative seafood flavor, messaging focused on these products’ environmental, health, and functional benefits are likely to bring additional consumers into the category.

For cultivated seafood, messaging about these products’ ocean habitat benefits, protein content, lack of “fishy” smell, and reduction in plastic waste produced by ocean fishing can generate additional gains in reach.  And for plant-based seafood, messaging about reduction in overfishing and plastic waste from fishing, high omega-3 content, and lack of fish bones can generate additional gains in reach. 

Consumers showed equal interest in plant-based and cultivated seafood

Consumers consistently ranked plant-based and cultivated seafood motivations and barriers in the same order of importance. This was true for environmental and health and functionality benefits—with only a few negligible differences in the functionality category. After learning about plant-based and cultivated seafood, 42 percent of consumers found plant-based seafood appealing and 43 percent would consider purchasing it in the future. 35 percent of respondents found cultivated seafood appealing and 38 percent would consider purchasing it in the future. 

Opportunities in alternative seafood  

As incomes rise and population increases, the United Nations projects an increase in demand for seafood of more than 45 million tons between the mid-2010s and early-2020s. In the short term, we could see as much as a 30 percent increase in global demand in the coming decade. This consumer research shows that both plant-based and cultivated seafood are well poised to appeal to the general consumer in the United States, and play a huge role in meeting the growing demand for seafood in a more sustainable way. 

To successfully meet this global demand with alternative seafood:

  1. We need to develop a more complete picture of global seafood consumers’ needs, preferences and motivations
  2. Additional consumer research in other geographic regions such as Asia and Europe, where seafood consumption is highest globally, would provide critical insights needed to broaden the alternative seafood industry’s reach and adoption
  3. Sensory research and evaluations are also needed to better understand how the  seafood products currently on the market are meeting consumer’s sensory expectations and where key product development opportunities lie

Website Link (by Marika Azoff)

Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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