Seaweed on the plate : an analysis of the consumer willingness to improve the health of the Baltic sea

University essay from SLU/Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)

Abstract: In a move to create a more sustainable living the government in Sweden has set up sixteen environmental objectives to improve the environment for future generations. One of the objectives is zero eutrophication and is considered the most serious threat to the marine environment. The Baltic Sea to the east of Sweden is at risk of losing large parts of its biodiversity and is considered unhealthy. Seaweed represents a promising mean to mitigate the eutrophication and there are projects in Sweden which aims to convert it into biogas and fertilizer in attempt to close the nutrient cycle. However, there is another use of the seaweed that companies are exploring and the idea is to grow it for consumption. In Asia seaweed is commonly eaten but that is not yet the case in Sweden even if the Asian cuisine has been introduced on the Swedish market. Growing seaweed could have positive effects on the Baltic Sea as it works as an exfoliator that reduces the excess nutrients and thereby improves the health of the sea. Acknowledging the crucial role sustainable food has for the future the thesis aims at investigating key-determinants of consumers’ willingness to pay for the environmentally friendly Baltic Sea seaweed, focusing on a sample of 46 individuals from Southern Sweden. An experiment that included sample testing was carried out under three conditions (blind, expected, informed) where the participants received additional information of the product between the sample tests. The first test was only presented as seaweed and the second test as presented as seaweed produced in the Baltic sea. To get a better understanding of the drivers, emotional and sensory terms were also included in the survey where the participants checked those that applied to them. Results showed that the majority of participants used positive emotions to describe the seaweed under both conditions but in all valued the seaweed grown in the Baltic sea less. The more participants knew about the Baltic sea the less they were willing to pay. If seaweed produced in the Baltic Sea was brought to the Swedish market the recommendation would be to promote it as produced in Sweden rather than produced in the Baltic Sea.

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