August 28, 2014  

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Survey Attempts to Answer The Question: To Eat Gulf Coast Shrimp or Not?

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The smell of shrimp boiling in the backyard is a sure sign of summer in Gulf Coast states. But a consumer behavior expert at The University of Southern Mississippi is conducting research to see if the massive oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon explosion is eroding consumer confidence in the copacetic crustacean.

Dr. John Lambert, a Southern Miss assistant professor of international business, admits that if there is a drop in sales of Gulf shrimp, the oil spill is probably not the only factor. Since 2007, Lambert has conducted scientific studies to measure consumer loyalty to fresh caught local shrimp and consumer acceptance of imported shrimp. Through these surveys he has found the entry of lower priced imported seafood has had an impact on both the seafood market and consumer wallets.
But has there been an impact on the taste buds of shrimp-eating consumers?

“The Gulf Coast shrimp industry depends largely upon consumer loyalty to local products,” said Lambert. “The shrimp industry along the Coast is part of the life blood and fabric of the region.  For the last three years, our surveys document the intention of consumers to buy Gulf Coast shrimp as opposed to imported shrimp.  As data accumulates from these annual surveys, trends emerge that can be quite interesting to see.”

Working to expand the scope of his previous studies Lambert has teamed with Southern Miss colleagues Dr. Dave Duhon, of the  Department of Management and International Business as well as Dr. Joseph Peyrefitte, College of Business associate dean and associate professor. Their goal is to take two consumer opinion snapshot studies during the Mississippi brown shrimp season.

The first study was conducted in June when the season began. The second study coincides with the successful capping of the British Petroleum oil well.

“We hope to see if the spread of crude oil in the Gulf, along with dispersants used to break up the oil, will have an impact on whether consumers turn their backs on local shrimp and turn their shopping carts to imported shrimp,” said Lambert.

Consumers have until Wednesday, Aug. 4 to participate in the survey which is available on-line at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gulf_coast_shrimp_survey_phase_II. Once the data is analyzed reports will be made available to interested individuals or organizations.