US seafood sales increased this year by 3.4% in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 24, 2018 (10 days into Lent), Nielsen data found.
Nearly 75% of surveyed consumers cited health reasons as their primary motivation behind eating more fish, with many recognizing that fish tends to be low in saturated fat and carbohydrates and high in a range of micronutrients including long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
“More and more people are choosing fish as a source of protein because of its big impact on health and relatively small impact on our planet,” Dan Burke, group director for Cargill’s aqua nutrition business in the US and UK, said.
Additionally, one-third of US consumers said there was no difference between farmed and wild-caught salmon in terms of nutritional value and environmental impact, Cargill’s survey revealed.
Sustainability and societal impact
Younger generations have become especially interested in the overall societal impact of seafood farming, and for Americans, it has become an expectation for seafood companies to work with and support local communities where they operate.
Survey respondents indicated the importance of sustainability in fishing practices as they confirmed that using resources responsibly and minimizing impact on the environment should be priorities for the responsible fish farmer.
One such company working to bring transparency to the seafood industry is Certified B Corporation, Fishpeople, which is helping restore overfished American coastal fisheries by employing local fishermen and paying them a small premium for their environmentally-friendly fish harvesting methods.
According to Fishpeople CEO Ken Plasse, more consumers want to be sure that their food, including seafood, is responsibly sourced.
Over the past year, sustainability claims increased 3%, seafood with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labeling grew 27%, and sales of seafood with Sustainable Fishing labeling grew 30%, according to Nielsen.
Cargill said that it supports this consumer priority for responsibly sourced seafood and serves as an active member of the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI).
“We prioritize listening and responding to these expectations around responsible food, working with our value chains to deliver and communicate about healthy and sustainable seafood,” Dave Robb, sustainability manager for Cargill’s aqua business, said.
“We’re committed to leading a global transformation toward sustainable seafood production by offering better feed for our customers, a safer workplace for our employees and more sustainable, transparent operations that support thriving communities.”
Fish health should be top priority for companies, say consumers
A proactive focus on fish health while in a farm environment has become increasingly important to consumers as well as maintaining a transparent supply
chain and operations with 59% of surveyed consumers ranking “keeping fish healthy” as the most important duty of a company raising seafood.
To respond to this consumer demand for maintaining and improving fish health, Cargill has expanded its micro nutrition business to focus on fish feed “that works with an animals’ natural biology” to improve overall health and reduce the need for antibiotics in aquaculture.
Also part of its effort for improving fish health, Cargill recently acquired global animal health company, Diamond V, and has a strategic partnership with Delacon, the world’s leading maker of plant-based phytogenics to introduce new innovations to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the industry’s fish stocks.