Sandra Blaue
Institute of Market Analysis


Bundesallee 63
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5302
Fax: +49 531 596 5399

How could sustainable aquaculture be communicated?


 (c) Universität Kassel/Antje Korn

Development of a communication strategy for products from sustainable aquaculture

With the global catch of wild fish stagnant and potential problems arising from conventional aquaculture farms, sustainable aquaculture practices gain in importance. Yet, sustainable practices often involve higher costs which have to be accepted by consumers. Therefore, the question arises: How can products from sustainable aquaculture be successfully communicated to consumers?

Trout farm (© Thünen-Institut/Yvonne Feucht)
Product package (© Thünen-Institut / Yvonne Feucht)

Background and Objective

Since several years now, the world market for fish has been constantly growing. The production increased from 130 million tons in 2003 to 154 million tons in 2011. The rapid expansion of aquaculture is mainly responsible for this development. In 2012 aquaculture accounted for 41% of world fish supply, and it is expected to grow further during the next decade.

But aquaculture is criticized for its potentially negative impacts on the environment and for its consequences on fish welfare. One solution to these problems is the adoption of sustainable production methods. Yet, sustainable practices often involve higher production costs. For the expansion of sustainable aquaculture it is therefore essential that its products are communicated to consumers in a targeted manner in order to increase consumers’ acceptance and to stimulate a higher willingness to pay. This is the starting point of the present project.

The project aims to develop a communication strategy for a successful positioning of sustainable aquaculture products on the German market. Thereby German producers of farmed fish will be enabled to address consumers in a more suitable way.


At the beginning of the project, the spectrum of aquaculture products with sustainability claims and labels on the German market has been registered. Afterwards, the consumer communication of the organizations responsible for the found labels and claims was examined. In a next step we explored the consumers’ view on the found labels and claims as well as on sustainable aquaculture and its products. The influence of different sustainability labels and claims on the purchase decisions of consumers has been explored. In a workshop the results of the analyses were discussed with representatives of the aquaculture sector and of the food retail. Based on all these results, a communication strategy for sustainable aquaculture products was developed.

Data and Methods

  • Inventory
  • Analysis of the status quo of communication directed towards consumers
  • Think aloud protocols
  • Focus groups
  • Choice experiments and survey



  • Recommendations for an improved communication of sustainable aquaculture products to German consumers.
  • Assessment of the importance of sustainability claims and labels used on aquaculture products.
  • Insights into consumers‘ perceptions and attitudes towards sustainable aquaculture and its products.


Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau (BÖLN)
    (national, öffentlich)


11.2012 - 10.2014


hits: 6

  1. Zander K, Risius A, Feucht Y, Janssen M, Hamm U (2018) Sustainable aquaculture products: Implications of consumer awareness and of consumer preferences for promising market communication in Germany. J Aquat Food Prod Technol 27(1):5-20, DOI:10.1080/10498850.2017.1390028
  2. Korn A, Janssen M, Hamm U, Feucht Y, Zander K (2015) Entwicklung einer Kommunikationsstrategie für nachhaltige Aquakulturprodukte. Bonn: BÖLN
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 3259 kb
  3. Feucht Y, Zander K (2015) Of earth ponds, flow-through and closed recirculation systems - German consumers' understanding of sustainable aquaculture and its communication. Aquaculture 438:151-158, DOI:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.01.005
  4. Feucht Y, Zander K (2014) Consumers’ knowledge and information needs on organic aquaculture. Thünen Rep 20, Vol. 2:375-378
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 38 kb
  5. Feucht Y, Zander K (2014) Was erwarten Verbraucher von nachhaltiger Aquakultur? : Thünen-Institut forscht zur Bekanntheit von Nachhaltigkeitslabeln in der Fischzucht. Fischmag(7-8):86-90
  6. Feucht Y, Zander K (2014) What do German consumers expect from sustainable aquaculture? In: Proceedings in system dynamics and innovation in food networks : 8th International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks, 17.-21. Februar, Innsbruck-Igls. pp 176-184