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An exploratory research study

Executive Summary

This exploratory study examined consumer attitudes towards the moral worth and welfare of shrimps and willingness to pay more for higher welfare animal products. We surveyed 393 individuals obtained through the survey platform provider Prolific. Participants were residents of the UK or major EU countries. There was an almost even split between men and women and the majority of participants were omnivorous (see Appendix A for detailed demographic information).


The study examined basic perceptions of shrimp welfare, but it nevertheless provides a clear preliminary picture of consumer opinion in this area. We tested participants' initial perceptions of shrimp welfare and sentience through a series of questions. They were then shown a visual infographic with brief overviews of evidence for sentience in shrimps and five common welfare practices. The participants were then asked the same questions again.


Perhaps surprisingly, given the as yet limited public debate on the welfare of farmed shrimps in particular, there was initially a notable consensus of concern for shrimps. 67% said that shrimps either “absolutely” or “probably” deserve not to suffer. Only 5% said an outright “no” to giving any consideration towards the animals. When it came to testing participants' concern over specific welfare factors, although many clearly felt they lacked information, there was also a deeming of the welfare practices problematic to varying extents even before fully understanding them. 44%-84% said that the five welfare practices were problematic in some way, ranging from a “small” to a “huge” problem. The largest grouping fell under “I don’t know enough [about this welfare factor to choose]” in four out of five questions. 70% indicated a willingness to pay between 5% more and more than 20% more for higher welfare shrimps, with a majority of 27% choosing 10% more in price.

After participants saw our brief informational infographic, there were clear and significant increases in moral consideration and the deeming of every current welfare practice as significantly more problematic. Increases in the five factors being regarded as “a huge problem” ranged from 71% to 426%. 66% now said shrimps are “absolutely” worthy of moral consideration and being spared from suffering. There was a combined 228% in those indicating willingness to pay 15% more, 20% more, or more than 20% more for higher welfare shrimps. The largest grouping however remained at paying 10% more with 19% of the total participants.


We want to stress the basic nature of the infographic (please see the Appendices for survey materials), and furthermore that this simple overview can create such clear changes in consumer perceptions.


The results from this study serve as a preliminary observation of consumer attitudes towards shrimp welfare and higher price tolerance. It may be helpful for retailers looking to anticipate evolving consumer preferences by adapting their supply chain commitments and product positioning. Further research will provide a more detailed analysis in this area as consumer awareness of welfare in aquatic animals grows.

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