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Abstract

The impact of environmental disasters on consumers’ perceptions and preferences for specific food items has seldom been studied in the applied economics literature. Recent aquatic disasters, namely the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, have had profound impacts on fisheries serving US consumers and on agribusinesses within the aquaculture industry. This study explores consumer preferences using a nation-wide representative sample, and finds that twenty-nine percent of US consumers sought to reduce their seafood consumption due to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and one-third of respondents indicated they sought to reduce their seafood consumption in the wake of the Daiichi nuclear disaster Additionally, over 50% believed that Asian seafood poses a consumer health risk because of the Japanese nuclear disaster. Understanding key factors that influence consumer behavior in the wake of environmental disasters can make fisheries, seafood industries and agribusiness more resilient when facing such catastrophic events. Our results find that key socio-demographic variables affect consumer behavior including gender, age, food safety concerns, value for country of origin labeling, and geographic location. Careful and efficient response by the seafood supply chain will enable effective communication with consumers and allow for optimal policy decision-making.

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