HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - A team of University of Southern Mississippi business experts is once again researching whether customers are buying and eating Gulf Coast shrimp versus imported shrimp, in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster.
Despite numerous state and federal reports showing that Gulf seafood is safe to eat, previous surveys by the USM team show some consumers still have concerns.
"Our third, and final, survey is available online for consumers to indicate whether they believe seafood is safe, if they believe the reported test results for shrimp and their buying habits concerning Gulf Coast shrimp," explained Dr. John Lambert, a Southern Miss assistant professor of international business.
Since 2008, Lambert has conducted scientific studies to measure consumer loyalty to fresh caught local shrimp and consumer acceptance of imported shrimp. He said this latest survey is designed to see if consumers are more concerned about the safety or the price of Gulf shrimp.
"We want to see what consumers are doing. Are they more concerned about the safety of their shrimp, the price of their shrimp, or the economic effect on local shrimpers?" Lambert said. "We know the Gulf Coast shrimp industry depends largely upon consumer loyalty to local products and our annual polls indicate consumers want to buy local products instead of lower priced imported seafood, but now the oil spill presents another caveat."
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 see if crude oil and dispersants used to break-up the oil have had an impact on the buying and eating preferences of consumers.
Their first study was conducted in June when the brown shrimp season began. The second study coincided with the successful killing of the British Petroleum oil well in mid-September.