Producer perceptions of the incentives and challenges of adopting ecolabels in the European finfish aquaculture industry: a Q-methodology approach
Chikudza, L and Guazente, C and Guillotreau, P and Alexander, KA, Producer perceptions of the incentives and challenges of adopting ecolabels in the European finfish aquaculture industry: a Q-methodology approach, Marine Policy, 121 Article 104176. ISSN 0308-597X (2020) [Refereed Article]
There is growing research interest in aquaculture ecolabelling. This is unsurprising given the potential economic incentives for the producer such as market access, price premium and increased sales, as well as the expected environmental benefits. To date, the focus has been on consumer perspectives of ecolabels, but research regarding farmers' perceptions remains scant. This study starts to address this gap by examining producersí perceptions of the costs and benefits of ecolabelling, and by investigating the effects of operation scale on these perceptions. A Q-methodology approach was used to uncover shared ways of thinking about this topic. A total of 26 interviews provided in-depth data on the perceptions behind the Q-sort rankings. The results of the study indicated that producers believed that adopting ecolabelling provides opportunities such as enhanced local and export market access, product acceptance, price premium, long-term supply contracts, increased investment attractiveness, positive consumer perception of aquaculture products and increased reputation. Producers also identified challenges such as compliance costs, costly annual audits and a lack of long-term benefits. The results of this study also suggest that incentives and challenges may not be correlated to scale, as comparable sized farm units did not share similar viewpoints. There are many considerations for a producer prior to pursuing certification. Providing evidence relating to the perceived incentives and challenges may make the decision to take a step towards sustainability an easier one.