4. Demand for, and benefits of, certification and branding

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4. Demand for, and benefits of, certification and branding

Any discussion on potential demand for certification and branding initiatives must be underpinned by the expected benefits that different interest groups anticipate; both the anticipated and the realized benefits are expressed through demand for such schemes/initiatives. Of course, the potential and actual benefits of any scheme will differ for different interest groups, and actual benefits may differ from hypothetical ones. Potential benefits are summarized in Table 1 and discussed in the following sections, especially with regard to evidence of the benefits being realized. It should be stressed however, the actual benefits resulting from any certification or branding scheme are likely to be very case-specific. It is very difficult to generalize about the type or scale of benefits resulting from different initiatives.

Table 1: Summary of expected benefits from certification and branding for different interest groups

Expected benefit

food service sector



Price increases


Improved client relationships

(with consumers)


(with retailers)

Improved management resulting in longer term sustainability

(for certification)

(for certification)

(for certification)

Improved quality of products

(for branding)

(for branding)

(for branding)

Better knowledge of provenance/source


Continued/improved access to markets



Improved public image


Product differentiation and market segmentation


4.1 Demand by consumers

Environmental and social certification

Firm evidence of consumer demand for environmental and/or social certification is difficult to find. Studies of reactions to seafood ecolabels have generally assessed consumer choices when faced with two samples of the same species, for example two samples of salmon — one ecolabeled and the other not (Wessells et al. 1999; Johnston et al. 2001). Results have indicated that consumers prefer ecolabeled products, as long as the price premiums are not large. Jaffrey et al. (2001) investigated consumer preferences for ecolabeling in the UK and Denmark and varied the products over a wide range of fresh and processed products. Again, consumers generally preferred labeled to unlabelled products. Johnston et al. (2001) analysed consumer demand for ecolabeled seafood in the United States and Norway and found a demand for ecolabeled seafood when consumers were presented with choices between ecolabeled and non-ecolabeled products of the same species, although consumers in Norway were more price sensitive than those in the United States. Johnston and Roheim (2005) suggest that while consumers consider overfishing sufficiently important to cause them to contemplate changing the species of fish they buy, they are unwilling to choose a less-favoured species (i.e. to sacrifice taste) based solely on the presence of an ecolabel.4

When consumers are asked about their demand for, and willingness to pay for, products from certified sources, many will respond positively (see Box 1 and Box 2).

Box 1: Consumer responsiveness to environmental sustainability of seafood

In 2005, Seafood Choices Alliance undertook research of the European seafood marketplace, in partnership with Greenpeace, the Marine Conservation Society, WWF and the North Sea Foundation. In this first-ever poll of European consumers, supermarkets, chefs and restaurateurs on attitudes towards seafood and the ocean, 79 percent said that the environmental impact of seafood is an important factor in their purchasing decisions; 86 percent of consumers would prefer to buy seafood that is labeled as environmentally responsible; 40 percent are willing to pay 5–10 percent more for seafood identified as ecofriendly. And 95 percent of consumers and 85 percent of seafood professionals said they wanted more information about how to buy sustainable seafood. http://www.seafoodchoices.com/aboutus/EuropeanResearch2005.php

Box 2: Chinese consumer attitudes

In China the secretariat of the China Certification Committee for Environmental Labeling implemented the "Survey on Chinese Public's Environmental-protected Consumption" in 2004. This study did not focus on fisheries products. According to the statistics, at purchase, 58 percent of customers rated quality as the most important criteria; another 35 percent rated the environmental characteristics of the item. Factors related to brand recognition, service and price were less important. Of the environmental characteristics group, 69 percent chose ecofriendly products because they thought such products would have health benefits and 21 percent opted purely for ecological reasons. The survey results showed that at present the market is confused with genuine and fake ecolabeled products: 58 percent of interviewees could partly distinguish genuine ecoproducts and 27 percent could not distinguish them at all. When asked, "What do you think of the present state of the Chinese ecoproducts market?" 46 percent said they were not clear about it and 27 percent said the market was "very confused". This survey showed that 59 percent of Chinese consumers were willing to pay 10 percent more for environmentally-friendly goods. An important finding was the increasing number of consumers aware of ecolabeling, up from less than 20 percent in the past to 80 percent in 2004.

Source: http://www.sepacec.com/english/labelling/

4 Dolphin Safe confers a very minor price benefit of around 1 percent (MSC, personal communication, 2007).

However, despite the demand expressed by consumers in some surveys, Boxes 3 and 4 indicate that stated demand by consumers and an actual willingness to pay is not always experienced in practice.5 A survey referred to in a Nautilus/IIED report (2003) concluded that "in relation to decisions about food and shopping, consumers were unashamedly selfish. Most decisions are based on self-benefit, e.g. value for money, taste and convenience, rather than being driven by altruistic motivations".6 There is also a widely recognized gap between what consumers say they do on ethical issues and how they actually act — a Cooperative Bank survey found that of the 80 percent of consumers who claim to shop or invest ethically, only 30 percent "practice what they preach".7 Organic labels are recognized by consumers as highly differentiated brands which they can trust, especially in terms of health and safety (absence of chemicals) and for which consumers are prepared to pay a premium — commonly estimated at around 10 percent. However, this inclination is less based on ethical considerations and more on self-interest in terms of health. Of course, issues of self-interest do not apply to environmental or social certification, so the market demand for environmentally/socially certified products is likely to be smaller than for organic products, although it still offers potential for a distinct exploitable market segment.

Box 3: The case of Frosta in Germany

In early 2003 Frosta, a German supermarket, launched a marketing initiative promising that for all of their own-brand products they would only use fish certified as sustainable by the MSC. At that time, this effectively meant that the only fish they could use for their whitefish products was hoki from New Zealand. Frosta invested much time and money in developing hoki-based products and adjusting processes to accommodate the new fish. Although hoki is usually sold at a higher price in Germany anyway, the extra cost was passed on to the consumer as a 10 percent rise in the price of the end products.

Frosta calculated that consumers would be willing to pay a premium for fish that was not in danger of stock collapse and which came from well-managed fisheries. They miscalculated. The products were high quality, but Frosta's market share in Germany crashed by more than 50 percent and they almost went out of business.

Source: Porritt (2005)

An additional problem with both certification and branding is that in many cases, consumers can justifiably be considered to be relatively uneducated about different forms of seafood, issues of sustainability, different labels, and so forth. As Jodice found when examining the responsiveness of tourists in South Carolina to industry efforts to differentiate locally caught wild products from imported farmed products, "…coastal tourists have a low level of subjective knowledge about shrimp. Therefore, the ability of coastal tourists to discriminate among shrimp attributes (especially related to origin) may be limited" (Jodice et al. 2006).

What is clear is that consumer demand for certification is certainly not homogenous among countries. Given the increasing prevalence of MSC-labeled products in different countries, one can infer that demand by consumers (and retailers) is evident in many Northern European countries and in America, but less so in Southern European countries (the use of the MSC logo in Europe is most evident in three countries: Switzerland, the UK and Germany).8 While MSC is to a certain extent demand-driven by fisheries approaching it, it may also be the case that existing demand is strongly orientated to those countries/

5 MSC report (personal communication, 2007. With regard to the Birds Eye case, the company used cheap fish that did not have the fat line removed. Had they done this the fish would not have had a "fishy" taste and may have been more acceptable. Findus in Sweden has been far more successful at introducing hoki as an alternative to cod.

6 IGD. 2003. Consumer attitudes to `eat the view'. Report for the Countryside Agency, Watford, IGD.

7 Key Note. 2002. The green and ethical consumer. Key Note Ltd.

8 MSC-labeled products are traded in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UAE, Netherlands, UK and the United States.

Box 4: The case of Unilever in the UK

In early 2002, Birds Eye launched two hoki steak products in an attempt to switch from cod (heavily overfished) to MSC-certified hoki. The first, a pack containing six steaks, directly replaced the equivalent cod steak product, which was discontinued (discontinuing the cod steak six pack meant replacing a product line worth well over US$35 million). The second, a pack containing two steaks, was sold alongside the cod equivalent. Then, in July 2002, Birds Eye also started selling packs of ten hoki fish fingers. It conducted much market research in advance to see how shoppers would react, and all the messages came back indicating that, given the right incentives, shoppers would buy the product. But when the products finally appeared on the shelves, that is where they largely stayed. Hoki was marketed as "New Zealand hoki", aligning the exotic-sounding fish with a familiar place, similar in people's minds to Britain, and with a reputation for producing high quality food. The sustainability message was there on the pack too: on the front an "Ocean Friendly" logo, and the MSC logo with a short explanation on the back. Hoki was also described in big red letters as "an excellent alternative to cod".

Food producers like Unilever cannot determine the price at which food is eventually sold by retailers, but they can send strong signals. The recommended retail prices of the hoki products being provided by Unilever were significantly lower than those for Unilever's cod equivalents and the hoki fish fingers were promoted at a recommended price a full one-third lower than the cod product. But competition between supermarkets in the UK is very strong, and tends to focus on iconic products and brands. Cod fish fingers are one example. Price competition on cod fish fingers drove the prices on the shelves down so that they appeared to shoppers at the same level as the hoki. By 2004, in some supermarkets, cod fish fingers were actually cheaper than the more sustainable hoki option.

As of mid-2005, Birds Eye is not selling any hoki products to retailers in the UK because it found that consumers prefer the taste of cod. The experience shows that, even if sustainability is a concern for shoppers, it is still much less important compared to price and quality.

Source: Porritt (2005).

regions on which MSC has focused its attention to date. Demand in other countries may also be readily exploitable, and demand countries in Asia and the Pacific may also be growing; since November 2006 Japanese consumers have been able to choose a range of ten fish products carrying the MSC ecolabel,9 and Australian and New Zealand MSC-certified products are sold domestically. A list of certified suppliers of MSC products in Asia and the Pacific is provided in Appendix . Recent steps in Hong Kong S.A.R. also indicate that assumptions about the lack of demand in developing countries may be misplaced.

Nevertheless, the relative levels of demand as expressed in terms of sales values should be kept in mind. The MSC is certainly the most well-known and high-profile environmental certification scheme globally. The high number of MSC-labeled products (see Figure 6) should be seen in the context of the total value of sales of MSC-certified products (US$236 million in 2005/2006). This is equivalent to less than 0.5 percent of the value of imports10 by the ten largest importers, 0.7 percent of the value of exports11 by the ten largest exporters and 0.33 percent of the value of internationally traded seafood products (US$71.5 billion, which itself represents 38 percent of the liveweight production of fish).

9 AEON (a Japanese supermarket) was the first major retailer to introduce sustainably-sourced seafood products in hundreds of stores across Japan.

10 At 2004 values, and based on FAO data.

11 At 2004 values. The share of developing countries in total fishery exports was 48 percent by value and 57 percent by quantity. The fishery net exports of developing countries (i.e. the total value of their exports less the total value of their imports) has shown a continuing rising trend in recent decades, growing from US$4.6 billion in 1984 to US$16.0 billion in 1994 to US$20.4 billion in 2004.

Figure 6: MSC labeled products by country, June 2007

Source: MSC, personal communication.


Demand by consumers for branded products (and by implication different qualities of product) can also be clearly inferred by visiting any supermarket in either developed or developing country markets and assessing the wide range of different brands of fish products on sale for different prices. In the canned tuna trade, branding is estimated to generate a 20 percent price premium approximately.12 However price premiums may be evidenced more in processed/canned/frozen products than in fresh/wet products, which are rarely branded (although increasingly sold with more information about the country where the fish has been caught). The increasing trend for fresh fish sales could potentially reduce consumer demand for branded products; the higher prices paid for fresh products may mean that efforts by producers to generate price premiums from branding are not so strongly demanded by consumers as in the frozen/canned sector (where branding can therefore be more successfully used by producers to protect their market share/access).

4.2 Demand by, and benefits for, retailers/the food service sector

Environmental and social certification

For retailers (and to a lesser extent the food service sector), increasing demand is primarily driven by long-term planning horizons and the need to ensure reliable supplies, a desire to avoid bad press related to sourcing from unsustainable supplies or suppliers with questionable employment practices and by their perceptions about potential consumer demand which in turn provides the potential for them to segment the market and establish price premiums (and therefore more profit) from sales to those consumers willing to pay. Many retailers may hope for a price premium but not view such a premium as essential. It is not consumer-driven willingness to pay that has driven the MSC growth in recent years, but the more intangible factors included in Table 1, particularly retailer credibility in relation to corporate social responsibility commitments. Whilst these are very difficult to quantify, they are nevertheless real benefits for retailers.

12 Personal communication, FAO (FIIU), 2007.

Demand by retailers/food service sector is far from universal. It varies:

One study (Macfadyen et al. 2003)13 found that interest in environmental and social certification/branding varies significantly between the retail and catering sectors. In the catering sector, which for example consumes around two-thirds of EU shrimp consumption, demand for sustainable/ethical shrimp is limited because:

Likewise the study found that supermarkets in the EU vary in their support for certification schemes, and many believe that the majority of customers are more interested in other factors such as value for money, speed at check outs and the quality of products. The study also found little/no support from those interviewed in the retail sector for specific social branding, as retailers are concerned about many brands confusing consumers and adding costs. This finding is supported by the more recent experience of the Fair-Fish initiative (see Section 3.2), with the Migros supermarket chain in Switzerland recently having withdrawn from the project. There may be some support for linking social/ethical issues into other environmental certification schemes and traceability requirements, although the willingness of those running environmental schemes (with the exception of Naturland) to expand into social issues remains another question.

Certainly a key factor for retailers is that product volumes in a particular commodity have to be large enough to ensure a coherent and consistent market image. In the UK a problem for the MSC is that not enough species have been certified; the MSC brand has yet to make the necessary impact in the consumer "share of mind". As noted by Porritt (2005) the first point is probably the most critical, as it opens the way to addressing the second. Supermarkets need a guaranteed, consistent supply of the species that people want to buy. Tesco, the biggest UK supermarket and one of the biggest retailers in the world, has stocked seven of the 12 MSC-certified species, mostly as fresh packaged fish but also some frozen New Zealand hoki. Together, they make up a tiny proportion of total fish sales. Supply volumes have been low and inconsistent even when in season. David Oliver, Tesco's Technical Director for fresh fish procurement, has been reported as saying that the variability in supply makes it difficult for them to support (certified) fish on their shelves (Porritt 2005). This certainly appears to generate a circular problem for the MSC; while some claim there is insufficient demand to bother getting certified, without certified fish the demand cannot be generated.

As indicated in Table 1, a major anticipated benefit for some retailers, and by implication processors supplying them, is long-term sustainable supplies. This raises the interesting question as to the extent to which environmental certification results in better management, and the extent to which certification schemes are just certifying fisheries that are already well managed. The answer is not always clear. For

13 The study examined exports of shrimp from Viet Nam to the UK and BeNeLux countries, and of ornamental fish from Indonesia and the Philippines to the UK and France.

many fisheries, management conditions are far from being certifiable under MSC processes and certification is therefore very unlikely. In other cases, the pre-assessment and assessment process can, and in some cases has, identified management changes that need to be realized for full certification to be likely (Box 5). For the Friend of the Sea Scheme, the use of published data as the basis for certification would seem to provide little direct incentive for improvements in fisheries management, at least in the short term, and improving fisheries management is not included within their mandate. The Friend of the Sea scheme has no leverage with a fishery (as it is a yes/no desk top analysis) and therefore has little ability to enhance fishery management. Moreover, potentially sustainable fisheries may be excluded on the basis of gear type or assumptions about bycatch risk.

Box 5: Reported benefits to producers of MSC certification

  • SuthWest Handline Mackerel (certified in 2000), seven products: Reported that better market access in home market and new markets in Switzerland resulted in increased demand, price premiums up to 20 percent, disproportional to market price increase, and a more robust management plan.
  • Wild Salmon (2000), 218 products: Used the MSC to distinguish their products as verification of good management and found better market access and increased market share in the EU market place, with anecdotal evidence of price premiums.
  • Patagonian Toothfish (2005), two products: Used the MSC to strengthen traceability in the fishery to battle IUU fishing and as a risk management tool against falling prices and reputation problems. An improved reputation allowed it to regain market access in the United States and UK (2006); increased demand should result in increased prices.
  • Alaska Pollock (2005), 120 products: Used the MSC as an answer to market demand, as proof of good management and to improve reputation; succeeded in increasing its market share in the EU market place and reported price premiums.
  • Pacific Cod (2006), four products: 3–5 percent price premium, found new markets in the EU, several products under development.
  • New Zealand Hoki (2001), 51 products: Has been very successful in finding new markets in the EU and United States market place, increased demand and reported price premium.
  • North Sea Herring (2006), two products: Strong demand for MSC herring from German and Dutch retailers and processors, products under development, good for the reputation of PFA fishery.

Source: MSC, personal communication.

In sum, the actual impact of the MSC certification and Friend of the Sea schemes on promoting sustainable exploitation is not clear, at least for the moment as the MSC targets its efforts on fisheries most likely to be certified, so as to build up sales volumes of certified products. This being said, as the MSC scheme expands to encompass less straightforward fisheries, there are likely to be increasing opportunities for influencing management practices. For instance, when a small lobster fishery on the northeast coast of England recently failed an MSC assessment, the preconditions for eventual certification have formed the basis for the development of a fisheries management plan that specifically addresses the weaknesses exposed.

The MSC has also investigated the wider environmental gains resulting from the MSC assessment process (Agnew et al. 2006). Of the ten fisheries examined, 89 gains and eight no gains were identified. Most of the positive gains were institutional in nature, with research also receiving a significant improvement. In addition, a number of operational gains, e.g. real improvements in controlling the impact of fisheries on the environment, were particularly supported by quantitative evidence. Most of the positive gains were in Principle 2.14 As might be suspected, most of the environmental gains were linked to conditions attached to certificates. There is some evidence, although not described in detail in the fishery results, of environmental gains occurring in other unrelated fisheries as a result of certification of a specific fishery in that region. And there appears to be evidence that research and action in one certified fishery can have far reaching effects on both uncertified and certified fisheries on the other side of the world.

So what about expected price increases from environmental certification? As discussed in Section 4.1, empirical evidence of price premiums reflecting consumer demand is hard to find. This in turn suggests that the presence of environmentally certified products may be being driven by supermarkets more than by genuine consumer demand itself. Given the importance to retailers of large volumes of supplies to build consumer awareness, coupled with the need to ensure long-term sustainability of sources of product, it can also be expected that demand from retailers for environmentally certified products may be especially strong for high volume species, providing both opportunities and limitations for certification depending on the scale of the fishery.


With respect to branding schemes in general, evidence suggests that branding does indeed allow for market segmentation and different price levels/premiums. This assertion is supported by the fact that for some food products, production of identical products may take place in the same factory but be packaged differently and sold at different prices. In addition, Figure 7 shows the impact of selling branded products on operating margins.

Figure 7: Operating margin of food companies in the UK

Source: Investec Henderson Crosthwaite (in Tveteras et al. 2006).

14 The MSC's Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing (known as the MSC standard) are based upon three fundamental elements that contribute to sustainable fisheries: maintaining healthy target fish populations (Principle 1); understanding and maintaining the integrity of marine ecosystems (Principle 2); and implementing effective fisheries management systems (Principle 3).

However, a note of caution is that large retailers are certainly concerned about a plethora of logos/brands confusing the consumer. It is likely that for either a company or a country brand/logo to be supported in a developed country supermarket, the retailer would have to be assured of significant volumes of products so as to generate the "share of mind" referred to earlier in this publication. This in turn implies that the potential for sales of regionally or nationally branded products from Asia and the Pacific into EU markets may be limited, especially where further processing and packaging takes place in Europe.15 As already noted, many retailers in the EU choose to use their own private labels/branding, rather than those of producers.

4.3 Demand by, and benefits for, producers

Environmental Certification

For producers, a wide range of potential benefits are fueling demand as suggested in Table 1. These include:

However, demand is most strongly linked to two main factors — market access and price premiums. Other factors are certainly important (as indicated below in the example of political motivations in South Africa), but the literature suggests that price increases and market access are the dominant drivers.

As noted by Roheim and Sutinen (2006) the "issue of market access issue is an important one for fisheries. If fisheries industries fear that without sustainable fishing practices they will be unable to sell their products to firms such as Frosta, Unilever, Sainsbury's, Whole Foods and Wal-Mart, then that presents a very real market reward for sustainable fishing, with or without a premium for sustainably harvested products. Wal-Mart's decision will force its supply fisheries to seek certification and will push many fisheries towards more sustainable practices, in order to remain suppliers to this retail giant".

Friend of the Sea claim16 to have evidence of (1) unapproved fisheries/suppliers being dropped by the retail chains they work with (e.g. Moroccan octopus, Bangladesh shrimp, Spanish sardines) and (2) certified products being preferred when compared with uncertified ones. Discussion with the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (personal communication, 2007) confirmed that MSC certification of the Norwegian saithe fishery was primarily motivated by a concern about market access following certification of the Alaskan pollock fishery. And in South Africa, MSC certification of the hake fishery was also strongly motivated by a desire to ensure continued preferred supplier status following certification of the New Zealand hoki fishery which is also MSC certified. But other motivations, as Ponte notes (Ponte 2006), included expectations about higher prices and political support in a continuing debate between the relative sustainability of trawled and longline-caught hake.

15 An occurrence made more common than it might otherwise be due to higher tariffs on many processed products than the tariffs on unprocessed product forms.

16 Personal communication, 2007. Paolo Bray, Director, Friend of the Sea.

In the Pacific, there is increasing attention on the various tuna fisheries in both the northern and southern hemispheres, as a number of key stocks are in a more favourable condition compared to the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In the Pacific (North and South), a troll/jig and pole & line fishery for albacore tuna is currently undergoing MSC full assessment and there has been interest in looking at some of the tropical and temperate tuna stocks in the Western Pacific. Some of the interest has been driven by retailer demand from the EU and United States but it is also the case that producing nations are exploring the market opportunities.

Expected price benefits are also a strong factor in producer demand for engaging with both certification and branding schemes. However, disentangling price rises and their determinants make empirical proof of causation very difficult. As a recent UNEP report (2003) notes in its summary, "The research undertaken for this report has made it clear that there is not enough concrete evidence to determine what the effects of ecolabels are on the environment, trade flows or market access for particular products". Nevertheless, Box 5 does suggest some benefits to producers of the MSC certification scheme, in terms of both price premiums and other benefits.

However, Ponte (2006) argues that the prices paid to exporters in South Africa for MSC-certified fish have not changed as a result of certification. As the UNEP report makes clear through references to several studies in non-fisheries products, even if there are price and profit premiums, issues of transparency mean that principal gains to the retail sector in developed country markets from higher end prices are typically considerably greater than the gains experienced by producers. Unilever for example will not commit to pay a price premium, but it will give preference to suppliers of MSC-certified fish products.17

Furthermore, there is uncertainty over whether any initial price premiums will be maintained for MSC certified products, as more and more products become certified. Evidence from the organic banana sector and also for dolphin-safe tuna suggests this may not be so. Although the price of conventional bananas fluctuated by roughly 30 percent between 1997 and 2003 and remained roughly the same in real prices, during this period the price of organic bananas dropped by 73 percent. This price drop was due to the increase in supply outstripping increases in demand. A price premium is still paid for organic bananas, but it appears to be decreasing over time as the scarcity of organic bananas decreases (UNEP 2003). Benefits of fisheries certification may follow the same pattern, and if they do, it is therefore more likely in the long run that benefits will be derived from continued market access rather than from significant price premiums.

Social certification

With respect to social certification, as indicated earlier, there is virtually no involvement of fisheries with social certification/schemes. The one exception is the (small) Fair-Fish initiative. This initiative claims the following benefits to producers:

17 Personal communication, Lutz Asbeck, Managing Director, Frozen Fish International, and leader of Unilever's Fish Sustainability Initiative (FSI) Team as quoted by UNEP.


Producer demand for branding is based on expected price benefits, potentially in both national and export markets. When products are sold through retailers, consumer price increases from branding may be more likely to be passed on to producers; supermarket buyers have less market power to put pressure on the price development of branded products because they need a fairly constant product mix and are wary of changing between branded products for fear of confusing consumers. The increasing economic influence of large retailers over time has placed intense downward pressures on prices and the ability of producers to retain margins and profitability rests increasingly on consumer loyalty. Food/fish manufacturers in many sectors have therefore been forced to devote increased resources to the task of developing and protecting brands.

Few, if any, quantitative studies appear to be available in the seafood sector quantifying the benefits of seafood branding to producers. However, the Pointe de Bretagne scheme claims to have resulted in significant price benefits and some anecdotal evidence in Japan also suggests the potential benefits of branding to both traders and producers (Box 6). The same result may also occur as a result of simple labeling, either as a specific branding exercise, or through legislation. In Australia for example, retailers have been required to place country-of-origin labels on products and this has resulted in a marked drop in demand for imported products (generally from Asian developing countries for products such as shrimp and catfish) and this has increased the demand and price for local fish.18

Box 6: Anecdotal evidence of the benefits/importance of the source of fish products

In a conversation about fish marketing with the head of a seafood trading company, it was reported that the quality of Chinese eel was the same as Japanese eel because Japanese producers had gone to Japan and set up the industry using the same production methods to target the Japanese market. But "made-in-Japan" eel resulted in higher prices than the product "made-in-China".

To counteract this, traders would sometimes associate Chinese products with the specific part of China where production took place, e.g. eel grown in a famous tea-producing region (Fujian) was labeled as being from that region rather than from China as a whole, in the expectation of some benefit of association with the good tea reputation.

While "made-in-Japan" usually results in higher prices in Japan for fish, this is not always the case. It is reported that "the reason Norwegian salmon gained massive market share from domestic salmon in Japan was a marketing campaign by Norwegian salmon producers selling in Japan using images of clear snowy blue-sky landscapes with healthy Nordic people slinging salmon over their shoulders to create the image that the salmon's heartland was Scandinavia and that Norwegian salmon was the best".

Source: Personal communication, Kate Barclay, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.

In support of the anecdotal evidence in Box 6, Tveteras et al. (2006) presented an economic model to assess the impacts of a generic advertising campaign for Norwegian salmon. They concluded that "The NSEC generic advertising program had a positive and profitable effect on the global demand for fresh Norwegian salmon. The returns to the salmon industry substantially outweigh the costs of the program. We also find a positive spill-over effect on demand for UK salmon."

18 MSC, personal communication, 2007.

Outside of the fisheries sector, Tveteras et al. (2006) also presented an excellent summary of a wide range of studies covering differing products that have been completed on commodity promotion campaigns, which while not specifically branding initiatives, have involved advertising in an attempt to increase sales. They concluded that "the large number of studies… on different commodities, destined both for the domestic market and for export markets, clearly indicate that investments in commodity promotion programs lead to higher sales. Only a few studies find that promotion has no or negative effect on sales. The average benefit-cost ratios (ABCRs), which measure the return on the total promotion expenditures, are overwhelmingly positive. Most ABCR estimates are in single digits but well over 1." But importantly they also note that "Unfortunately, it is harder to measure the effect of promotion programs on producer profits."

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