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Europeans and aquaculture: perceived differences between wild and farmed fish

Anne Katrin Schlag (King's College London, London, UK)
Kaja Ystgaard (King's College London, London, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 8 February 2013




Fish is considered a healthy and pure food. However, modern aquaculture introduced a range of potentially controversial issues, which may impact public perceptions. The purpose of this paper is to compare consumer perceptions of the production and consumption of wild and farmed fish in Europe.


In total, 28 focus groups were conducted in the capitals of seven European countries: France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain and the UK, between January‐March 2009. Data were analyzed with the qualitative software Atlas/ti.


Focus group discussions centre on a broad range of themes: economic risks and benefits, environmental concerns, human health issues, trust and nature. Europeans weigh up the scientific risks and benefits of farmed versus wild fish. However, when considering non‐scientific concerns, such as trust and nature, consumers prefer wild to farmed fish. Respondents have less trust in the production and consumption of farmed fish than in their wild counterparts, as the former are perceived as unnatural and unfamiliar.


Results have implications for the development of public communication strategies. The predicted growth of aquaculture highlights the importance of communicating the risks and benefits of farmed fish and fish farming effectively. The authors' findings show that a communication needs to incorporate moral and ethical risk dimensions, as these are the distinguishing areas leading to consumer preference of wild over farmed fish.



Katrin Schlag, A. and Ystgaard, K. (2013), "Europeans and aquaculture: perceived differences between wild and farmed fish", British Food Journal, Vol. 115 No. 2, pp. 209-222.



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