As part of a project by Jacob Gawel at University of Cambridgethe study aims to improve the seafood industry’s understanding of the public’s perception of farmed bivalve molluscs.
“Our food choices are at the heart of our health and environmental footprint. Despite their health and environmental benefits, bivalves remain an unpopular source of protein for people in the UK. This project offered a chance to learn more about the factors that influence people’s dietary behaviors and help inform the development of bivalve products with potentially significant consequences for the sustainability of our UK food system,” says Gawel.
The survey is part of a larger initiative by Dr David Willer, whose group at Cambridge studies the opportunities and challenges of integrating bivalve aquaculture into global food systems. A major challenge is increasing consumer demand and the study aims to provide insight into the current barriers and drivers of bivalve consumption in the UK and to assess the potential for new bivalve products to overcome this challenge.
Gawel says encouraging more people to eat farmed bivalves is a win-win solution, both for the environment and for human health.
“Bivalves have higher levels of iron, zinc, vitamins A and B12 and omega 3 fatty acids, and similar protein content to popular fish such as cod and tuna. When it comes to sustainability, bivalve aquaculture uses almost no land or freshwater – relying instead on seawater – and emits fewer greenhouse gases than many fish crops. meat and plants. Bivalve reefs also provide ecological benefits such as water filtration, provision of nursery habitats for fish, and protection from flooding and coastal storms,” he explains.
Despite all these positive aspects, the majority of UK consumers do not eat bivalves on a regular basis.
“It’s a combination of the perceived inconvenience of shellfish preparation, a lack of familiarity with the taste of bivalves, knowledge gaps about their health and environmental benefits, concerns about the safety food and social norms more generally. However, this is by no means an exhaustive list and this issue requires further investigation,” Gawel reflects.
“To overcome this barrier, it may be helpful to provide bivalve meat in more convenient and familiar formats, such as mussel fingers or clam nuggets,” he adds.
Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood for people around the world. Globally, aquaculture production must double by 2030 to keep pace with demand. These increases in demand for aquaculture products, food security considerations and job creation have generated an increased need for skilled workers.