We have an exciting day coming up at the University this week as our November graduation takes place and it is an especially proud day for me and my Aquatic food Security colleagues as we celebrate the success of the first student graduating from our MSc in Aquatic Food Security. So, only one this year, but we have two on the course at the moment and a few good applications for next year already so I am sure we will continue to grow. Especially as awareness increases of food security in general and of the important role that seafood plays in that big picture.
Our graduating student is Nada Bougouss from Morocco. The University has included her as one of their graduation case studies so you can read more about her here.
What I wanted to blog about today was her project on seafood consumption. I am currently working on a project funded by an Interface- administered Innovation voucher with a company call Fishbox.
Fishbox is a seafood subscription service in which fresh and seasonal fish is delivered straight to your door. The process involves, customers choosing their loves, likes and dislikes from amongst 80 products, Fishbox sees what is fresh and in market and, based on customer preferences, sends an appropriate box. I am a Fishbox customer myself and a big fan of their service particularly because it has broadened out the types of fish that I eat. In Nada’s project she did a survey and compared people buying fish from local Stirling Supermarkets with those using Fishbox.
The survey showed that more than 95% of Scottish Fishbox respondents (total of 272) buy Fishbox because of the freshness/ quality as well the origin of fish and seafood. Customers are also encouraged by the convenience of the delivery service and the diversity of species received. The vast majority of respondents concurred that Fishbox encouraged them to diversify their seafood choices and half agreed that it boosted their eating and cooking confidence. A large proportion of respondents said that Fishbox encouraged them to look for responsibly sourced fish/seafood and that they seek local produce.
At the same time the local survey of seafood consumers in Stirling (albeit from a much smaller sample 22) found that convenience, taste/texture and health benefits are the most important factors in their seafood purchases. Sustainability and origin was much less important to these consumers, with far fewer respondents citing this as important compared to the Fishbox customers (23% vs 96%).
Of course what we cannot determine, from this project, is how much of this is because people who use Fishbox do so because they are already interested in sustainable sourcing and local food and how much their views are changed once they become customers. However, it is clear that Fishbox customers eat a wider variety of fish as a consequence of being their customers. This is encouraging because it means that by offering the right opportunities we could help people to eat a wider variety of fish species which would make seafood even more sustainable overall. Perhaps in subsequent projects we can work out how to do that for the wider population.