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Who cares about fish welfare? A Norwegian study

Kristian Ellingsen (Department of Health Surveillance, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway)
Kristine Grimsrud (Group for Energy and Environmental Economics, Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway)
Hanne Marie Nielsen (Department of Breeding and Genetics, Nofima, Ås, Norway)
Cecilie Mejdell (Department of Health Surveillance, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway)
Ingrid Olesen (Department of Breeding and Genetics, Nofima, Ås, Norway)
Pirjo Honkanen (Nofima (Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research), Tromsø, Norway)
Ståle Navrud (School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway)
Christian Gamborg (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Peter Sandøe (Department of Food and Resource Economics/Large Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is threefold: first, to assess how concerned Norwegians are about fish welfare; second, to investigate Norwegians’ willingness to pay for salmon filet made from welfare-assured farmed fish with high levels of welfare; and third, to examine Norwegian opinions about the appropriate way to pay for better welfare standards in fish production.

Design/methodology/approach

On the basis of two focus group sessions, a survey questionnaire was developed and distributed to a representative sample of 2,147 Norwegian households via e-mail.

Findings

Results showed that the Norwegian public is concerned about fish welfare and is willing to pay a price premium for products made from welfare-assured fish. Norwegian consumers do not, however, want to be the only ones paying for fish welfare, as the main responsibility for fish welfare lies with producers and the Government.

Research limitations/implications

In this study willingness to pay is measured using a hypothetical choice experiment. Values people express as citizens, however, may not accurately predict true consumer behaviour. This is generally referred to as “citizen-consumer duality” and may have affected the results.

Practical implications

The study shows that there is a national market for welfare-assured fish products, but education initiatives focusing on fish farming and fish welfare issues would further influence the attitudes and purchasing habits of Norwegian consumers.

Originality/value

Although concern about animal welfare is growing in the western world, very little attention has been given to the welfare of fish. This paper aims to make up for this by presenting a study of how Norwegians view the welfare of farmed salmon.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Ann-Charlotte Karlsson for help with conducting the focus group studies, Morten Raun Mørkbak for useful advice concerning the discussion of hypothetical bias when interpreting WTP and an anonymous referee for useful comments. This research has been financed by the Research Council of Norway through the project “Breeding for improved fish welfare in aquaculture”, project no. 190457/S40.

Citation

Ellingsen, K., Grimsrud, K., Nielsen, H.M., Mejdell, C., Olesen, I., Honkanen, P., Navrud, S., Gamborg, C. and Sandøe, P. (2015), "Who cares about fish welfare? A Norwegian study", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 257-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-08-2013-0223

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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