Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

An Analysis of Consumer Preferences for Value-Added Seafood Products Derived from Crawfish

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

An Analysis of Consumer Preferences for Value-Added Seafood Products Derived from Crawfish

Article excerpt

Conjoint analysis is used to evaluate consumer preferences for three consumer-ready products derived from crawfish. Utility functions are estimated using two-limit tobit and ordered probit models. The results show women prefer a baked nugget or popper type product, whereas 35- to 44-year-old men prefer a microwavable nugget or patty type product. The results also show little difference between part-worth estimates or predicted rankings for the tobit and ordered probit models, implying the results are not sensitive to assumptions regarding the ordinal and cardinal nature of respondent preferences.

Key Words: conjoint analysis, consumer-ready products, crawfish, ordered probit, two-limit tobit

Mince-based foods are among the several new forms of value-added seafood available to U.S. consumers. For instance, the U.S. seafood industry produced some 18,358 metric tons of fish sticks, fish nuggets, seafood patties, and similar products in 2000. The United States also imported some 6,011 metric tons of mince-based seafood during this same year [U.S. Department of Commerce/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USDC/NOAA), 2001]. These products are manufactured using mechanical meat-shell separators to extract additional meat from the by-products of traditional processing or the further processing of undersized animals. However, despite growing consumer acceptance of mince-based products, processing of by-products and undersized animals is underutilized by many seafood industries.

The U.S. crawfish industry is one example of the underutilization problem. Most crawfish produced in the United States are harvested from rivers and natural estuaries in southern Louisiana, or they are farm-raised in shallow ponds as part of a double-- crop production system with rice. After harvesting, crawfish are sorted into three or four quality grades. The larger grades are either exported to European markets, sold on local live markets, or hand peeled for their tail meat and sold on domestic markets. The smallest grades are typically not suitable for either processing or sale on live markets. These animals are by-products of the grading process and usually priced well below the current market price, or they are simply discarded by the processing plant. The smaller crawfish account for as much as 20% of total production in some years.

Crawfish production was about 18.5 million pounds during the 2000 crop year, which represents approximately $31.7 million in gross farm value (Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, 2000). Moreover, traditional processing of larger crawfish usually results in recovery of only about 15% edible tail meat, leaving some 85% of the animal's weight for further processing (Ozayan, 1997).

Numerous studies have demonstrated the technical feasibility of processing by-products into edible minced meat. Lee, Meyers, and Godber (1993) showed that edible minced meat could be extracted from blue crab processing by-products using mechanical meat-shell (or meat-bone) separators. A study by Gates and Parker (1992) also reported the feasibility of deriving food-grade mince from blue crab processing by-products. Pigott (1994) summarized research on the further processing of fish frames into mince meat. While these studies clearly confirm the technical feasibility of minced meat seafood, little research has been conducted on the market potential for these products.

A few studies have examined the markets for traditional crawfish products. For instance, Yen, Dellenbarger, and Schupp (1995) analyzed the factors that contributed to a decline in crawfish production in 1990. Based on their conclusions, declines in production resulted from decreased demand for crawfish, which was caused by economic recession and lower priced substitute products. Their study emphasized the need to develop new markets for crawfish. Although the analysis contributed to the literature regarding identification of the factors affecting demand for traditional crawfish, most research to date has failed to examine markets for new value-added products derived from crawfish mince. …

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