The Suminoe oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis, is currently under consideration for introduction to the Chesapeake Bay for aquaculture and to restore lost fishery resources once provided by the native Eastern oyster. To assess the suitability of the Suminoe oyster for substitution into native oyster markets, we provided whole triploid oysters for home cooking to consumers in coastal North Carolina and asked them to complete a survey on qualities of the Suminoe oyster. Participants reported the frequency with which they would consume the oyster inside and outside of the existing oyster season, how they would consume the oyster and the price they might be prepared to pay for the Suminoe oyster relative to the native oyster. Because participants prepared the Suminoe oysters themselves, consumer evaluations incorporated not only attributes of the oyster meat but also the ease with which the oysters could be shucked and prepared. Consumers rated the Suminoe oyster's aroma, appearance, texture and flavor as likeable. As a result of the oyster's tissue quality and the ease with which it could be shucked, 81% indicated that they would purchase the Suminoe oyster if it is introduced. Only 19% of survey participants said they would pay more for Suminoe than Eastern oysters when both are available. This contrasts sharply with the 45% that would be prepared to pay a higher price for the Suminoe oyster than they would normally pay for Eastern oysters at times when the Eastern oyster is not available. Consumers generally indicated that they would prepare the non-native oyster in similar ways to the native oyster. Thus, our study indicates that the Suminoe oyster is considered by consumers in eastern North Carolina to be a close substitute for the native oyster. Consequently, the Suminoe oyster might serve as a successful substitute for the lost fishery resource of the native oyster.
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