This project aims at developing a 'market and consumer' approach in the general field of aquaculture. Although, it focuses on Mediterranean aquaculture products, it has been enlarged to ten partners from eight countries, because Northern European markets are important outlets for Mediterranean aquaculture products and because methodological issues are of a wide geographical relevance.
In response to the aquaculture industry's need for more market knowledge, the past decade has seen a surge in the number and variety of market analyses of fisheries products (Wessels and Anderson, 1992). With the increasing supply of farmed fish, there has been a corresponding increase in interest in micro-oriented issues, such as the potential demand for new or differentiated products and the effects of advertising on consumer demand.
Many studies concerning consumer attitude towards aquaculture products have been published recently (COPA-COGECA, 1996 ; COFREPECHE, 1996), but their response does not really fulfil the need of decision makers in aquaculture. Indeed, market studies other than purely descriptive analysis, focus on understanding consumer/buyer behaviour based on limited groups of consumers. Although results can be obtained quickly and in great detail, the approach is relatively expensive, is usually difficult to generalise because of small sample size and may be influenced by the inherent biases and poor seafood knowledge of the focus group. It has also been shown that there was no direct causality between attitude and effective behaviour in food and particularly seafood consumption (LAHLOU, 1996), which underlines the need for objective data in complement to this type of study. An other constraint to take into account is that the bulk of market research tends to be useful in strategic decision making and consequently is proprietary or has restricted circulation.
This work will be very useful for the SELAM network (Socioeconomic and Legal Aspects of Aquaculture in the Mediterranean) which is aiming at collecting, sharing and disseminating economic information about aquaculture in the Mediterranean area. The presentation and the discussion of the results of the concerted action may be the issue of a SELAM workshop.
This project and the following research work will provide guidelines to the European incentive policy regarding investments for quality differentiation and species diversification. A better knowledge of the market size for different types of products will help implement regulatory tools concerning European aquaculture production capacity. In particular, such work would be a valuable contribution to the European Commission project of 'Mediterranean network of aquaculture research centres' (contract 94/C 185108102). indeed, species diversification and product differentiation are among the main issues involved in that project, which need to be accompanied by socio-economic research about production costs assessment and market analysis. The results of this project and the research which could be further undertaken will also generate information to help decisions of the Commission in its incentive policy towards aquaculture in the framework of the CFP.
This project may also help attract new researchers to aquaculture economics which is not yet widely developed in Europe, with the exception of Norway where substantial research has been conducted both on the supply and demand side. Finally, it should encourage participants and the aquaculture industry to take benefit of the experience developed by agricultural economists regarding food consumption trends and consumers behaviour.
The overall objective of the project is
- To propose a methodology for seafood market analysis in the aim of introducing new aquaculture products (with focus on Mediterranean fish and shellfish species ) and to improve the exchange of available information on European seafood markets.
Its specific objectives include:
- Annual country reports of seafood consumption data (both from marine and fresh waters) and of general socio-economic data influencing seafood consumption, with focus on
- aquaculture products.
- Annual comparative reports of seafood consumption data in main European markets and of general socio-economic data influencing seafood consumption, with focus on
- aquaculture products.
- Identification of means which would facilitate the exchange and the analysis of these data (Internet).
- Reviews and analyses of the seafood market studies which are conducted in the European countries in order to compare the national specificities as regard to consumer's attitude towards new seafood products.
- Marketing surveys of the new aquaculture products on the European markets.
- Organisation of a seminar with the participation of aquaculture producer's organisations and researchers involved in the field of food consumption to analyse the results of the data collecting and of the market studies review. Identification of research topics about seafood market studies.
This concerted action also aims at presenting the consumption data as much as possible in an homogeneous form, since these data are very heterogeneous at the present time. Thanks to the common work, the data should be more easily compared between countries.
Funding SchemeCON - Coordination of research actions
19400 Koropi, Athens