A lack of knowledge about seafood is the biggest hurdle to increasing sales and US consumption.

That’s the main take away from one of the industry’s most popular events – the Global Seafood Market Conference held last week in California.

Results of a first ever Power of Seafood Survey of over 2,000 Americans by the Food Marketing Institute yielded some surprises about why Americans aren’t buying more seafood, and revealed hurdles that prevents them from buying more.

A recap of the FMI survey by SeafoodSource found that only 56 percent of Americans eat seafood twice a month – a far cry from the twice a week recommendation by the US government. Just one in five adults classified as frequent seafood eaters said they meet that weekly threshold.

Freshness and flavor have a major impact on seafood purchases but most shoppers said they feel turned off by their lack of knowledge.

Nearly half of consumers said there is not enough information about how to judge quality and freshness, and 42 percent said they wanted more information about different species of fish and shellfish.

Guy Pizzuti, seafood manager for the Publix chain, called consumers’ worries over evaluating freshness   a “failure of the industry.”

Just 29 percent of the respondents said they feel very knowledgeable about how to buy seafood; only 28 percent said they felt confident in how to prepare or season it.

Buyers from major grocery chains said they can’t just focus on the appeal of raw seafood. They must stimulate consumers to believe they can easily cook it when they get home and that it’s going to be tasty.

Pizzuti added that the industry has been talking about teaching consumers how to prepare seafood for decades and it still hasn’t been figured out.

Dave Wier of the Meijer chain added that the industry is too busy telling customers what boat caught the fish instead of how to cook it. He said that they’ve taken their eye off what consumers really want and the industry is “terrible” at this and must improve quickly.

The survey found that the average seafood eater spends more on food than non-eaters, and frequent seafood eaters spend even more – showing it to be a small but lucrative demographic group.

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