HATTIESBURG — Nearly half of all respondents claim they are leery of buying Gulf of Mexico shrimp, according to very preliminary results in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).
According to an Internet-based scientific survey conducted by Drs. John Lambert, David Duhon and Joseph Peyrefitte in the Southern Miss College of Business, respondents expressed concern about the oil and dispersants, which tainted Gulf waters following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in April. The study was done in two phases: one at the beginning of Mississippi’s brown shrimp season and another done when British Petroleum (BP) plugged the well thus stopping the gushing flow of oil into the Gulf.
“While individuals are concerned about the tainted Gulf waters, there is still purchasing loyalty toward buying Gulf Coast shrimp, but that purchasing loyalty is weakening,” said Lambert, a consumer behavior expert and assistant professor of international business.
Although purchasing loyalty is weakening, emotional loyalty to the Gulf Coast crustacean remains strong. In the first phase of the study just over 56 percent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “There is nothing to compare with our gulf coast shrimp; I will not buy imported shrimp.” In the second phase of the survey just over 55 percent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with that statement.
“Overall, this preliminary review of data indicates that there is consumer confidence in and loyalty to fresh Gulf Coast shrimp, but many of the consumers are indeed concerned about the safety of the seafood,” said Lambert.
The trio of researchers plan a more detailed analysis of the data in the near future and are looking to conduct further surveys pertaining to Gulf seafood relating to the lingering effects of the BP oil spill.