Ocean acidification, consumers’ preferences, and market adaptation strategies in the mussel aquaculture industry


  • We analyze welfare impacts of ocean acidification in commercial mussels’ species.
  • We assess the effectiveness of market adaptation strategies identified by the industry.
  • OA will impact mussels’ characteristics that are highly valued by the consumers.
  • Unlike cost-benefit analysis, our approach looks for possible market segmentation.

Ocean acidification (OA) is one of the largest emerging and significant environmental threats for the aquaculture industry, jeopardizing its role as an alternative for supporting food security. Moreover, market conditions, characterized by price volatility and low value-added products, could exacerbate the industry’s vulnerability to OA. We use a literature review on the biological consequences of OA over marine commercial species attributes to inform the empirical assessment of consumers’ preferences for those attributes affected by OA, and consumers’ responses to a set of market adaptation strategies suggested by the industry. We found that OA will have a negative impact on consumers’ welfare due to the effects on commercial attributes of mussels aquaculture products. However, the main concerns for the industry are the market conditions. Thus, the industry’s current adaptation strategies are focused on increasing their market share by offering new product assortments (with more value-added), regardless of the effect of OA on consumers’ welfare. Despite this fact, the industry’s strategies could eventually contribute to cope with OA since some specific segments of the market are willing to pay for new product assortments. This new market composition highlights the role of public institutions’ reputation in issues related to food safety.

Ponce Oliva R. D., Vasquez-Lavín F., San Martin V. A., Hernández J. I., Vargas C. A., Gonzalez P. S. & Gelcich S., 2019. Ocean acidification, consumers’ preferences, and market adaptation strategies in the mussel aquaculture industry. Ecological Economics 158: 42-50. Article (subscription required).

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