May 08, 2019

How Consumers Will Make Informed Choices & Drive Change

By Karim Kurmaly

The global consumer demand for healthy seafood is growing as consumers become more health conscious and actively aware of the benefits of eating fish. Because of increased access to nutrition and health information via the internet, consumer awareness is quickly evolving into deep care and thought about the health benefits and effects of food on our individual and collective well-being.

This is evident in the United States where millennials are driving the trend. More millennials are seeking healthy, sustainable sources of protein and picking seafood as a top choice. And restaurants are responding by adding seafood options on their menus like poke bowls, sushi burritos, grilled fish and seafood burgers as millennials change their dietary habits to incorporate more seafood, following the advice of health experts and leading health organizations like the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP). SNP recommends people consume two servings of fish per week to get the proper amount of the omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids.

Millennials are also driving changes among big box retailers, forcing them to adopt new approaches to consumer engagement and education. According to Lexington Law, 40% of millennials refer to online reviews and testimonials before purchasing a product. And a 2016 survey from the shipping company UPS shows that 22% of millennials have used an app to purchase groceries. Because millennials often conduct research before making purchases, retailers are providing more information about product sourcing and nutrition to consumers than ever before in-store, online and on their branded products. As millennials increase their economic spending power to an estimated $1.4 trillion by the year 2020, retailers will continue to evolve and provide more of the product insights that tech-savvy and knowledgeable millennials consumers want.

Veramaris recently conducted a series of salmon consumer surveys to better understand the relationship between salmon consumption and key topics such as awareness of health benefits in the United Kingdom, United States, France, China, Japan and Australia. The data clearly showed that the more frequently salmon consumers purchase salmon, the more they care about omega-3 content and omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids.

This is a signal for the aquaculture industry to begin to think about salmon as a health brand, not a commodity, and labeling salmon products to indicate omega-3 EPA & DHA content and related health benefits is the first step. Without proper labeling, consumers cannot make informed purchasing decisions and cannot easily differentiate the benefits of the various salmon products on the market -- the aquaculture industry could smartly embrace labeling of the levels of omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids in salmon to better meet the demands of increasingly health conscious consumers.

With today’s increasing demand for seafood and limited or declining wild catch, the global population has to rely on aquaculture to fill the gap. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that by 2030 more than 60% of seafood will be produced by the aquaculture industry. However, the industry relies on finite marine resources such as fish oil as part of aquaculture feed. While consumer demand for healthy seafood has led to growth within the aquaculture industry of
3% per year, the global supply of fish oil derived from wild-caught fish is declining.

Veramaris provides a unique solution to meet the soaring global demand: our natural marine algal oil addresses the challenge of feeding a growing global population without exhausting precious natural resources. The algal oil provides farmed fish with the essential omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids those fish need for health and growth. Those same omega-3 benefits are passed directly to consumers, replacing the need for ocean caught fish oil in farmed fish. This creative approach not only promotes the health of the individual, but also the overall heath and conservation of the marine life ecosystem.

Many health-conscious consumers are aware that EPA & DHA support brain health and development, and support reduction of risks for several serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and arthritis. But consumers may not know there are disparities in the health benefits delivered from the different methods of farming fish. As part of the Veramaris solution, algal oil offers a standardized way to regulate and determine the amount of omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids in salmon so consumers are confident of the health benefits and the delivery of the “salmon brand promise.”

Our breakthrough technology, along with the developments of other innovators in our industry, will reshape the aquaculture industry by ensuring that it continues to grow and satisfy the demand for healthy seafood, while not further impacting the ecosystem of our planet.

In today’s world, consumers are more empowered than ever to make informed decisions about their health and the food they consume. It is our responsibility to make their decisions conveniently easy by providing product labeling on the level of omega-3 EPA & DHA fatty acids, supported with the latest information on the health benefits of seafood consumption. Together we must take the lead on product labeling to facilitate informed purchasing decisions and evolve as an industry that will be a lifeline for the future of healthy humans and a healthy planet.

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