Shaped and reshaped by new trends, shifting values and fluctuating incomes, the consumer landscape is in a constant state of flux. Indeed, it could be said that the only constant amid this perpetual evolution is that people are steadfast in their determination to lead richer, more fulfilling lives.
A large part of this ambition involves being able to take much more informed decisions with regards to the products and services that they buy. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with food, with society increasingly demanding products that meet its health and wellbeing needs.
The seafood category is extremely well placed to capitalise on these expectations. By sourcing from responsibly-managed wild-capture and aquaculture sectors, fish and shellfish supply chains not only offer a rich diversity of delicious protein, they also provide consumers with some of the healthiest foods available.
There are countless studies advocating that eating seafood, especially those species rich in long chain omega-3s, are an integral part of healthy living, while most health organisations recommend including fish or seafood in the human diet a minimum of two to three times a week to ensure that our bodies get the required levels of these essential fatty acids. Other benefits of regular seafood consumption include supporting brain and eye development and functionality, and lowering the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
Supporting category growth
Seafood does tick many boxes. And thanks to increases in production, technological developments in processing, cold chain logistics, shipping and distribution, global seafood consumption is on a growth trajectory that has already spanned six decades.
But current demands don’t end there. Increasingly at the forefront of engaged consumers’ minds are conscience-triggering issues such as environmental responsibility, ethical sourcing and production processes, sustainability, transparency and trust. At the same time, many will have encountered negative stories circulated about illegal fishing, irresponsible fish farming practices, fraud, mislabeling and more besides. It’s also likely that at some level these play a part in purchasing habits.
Supply chains have faced many challenges during the past 18 months, but in providing the world’s most traded food commodity, and to preserve its credibility as sustainable source of nutrition, there’s a pressing need for the seafood economy to kick-on and provide much more information from its often-complex supply chains. It’s clear that people want to understand exactly what the products are that they are being offered; they want proof that they’re safe; they want to know the origins, the production methods, and the individuals and communities involved; and also how such products came to be in their store or restaurant, including how far they travelled to be there. Essentially, they’re seeking much greater trust and visibility.
If they haven’t already done so, supply chains should strive to have sufficiently sophisticated traceability solutions in place through which any item can be closely scrutinised throughout its entire journey to the plate – linking the raw material production, processing, and distribution stages and every input in between.
These systems could also provide evidence of common industry claims, such as that the wild-capture and aquaculture sectors offer foods that have a much smaller carbon footprint than other animal proteins. Beyond this, there are the promises of net-zero commitments to substantiate.
Of equal importance to supply chains’ future resilience, these systems must be flexible and adaptable in order to meet changing consumer needs as they emerge and to facilitate the arrival of new technologies. Collectively, these endeavours will bring greater consumer loyalty and also build stronger brands. Without such undertakings, the opposite could be true.