M&S and Co-operative top supermarket fish survey


A study into sustainable seafood available at supermarkets found that Marks and Spencer and The Co-operative are moving in the right direction whilst other retailers have made less effort. Charlotte Reid looks into it.

Marks and Spencer and The Co-operative came out on top of a supermarket seafood survey, both scoring 84% and winning gold awards.

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose were both given a silver award for their commitments to sustainable seafood, but no other supermarkets were recognised, and some even refused to take part.

The Supermarket Seafood Survey 2011 was conducted by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). They sent a questionnaire to all supermarkets and the responses were used to assess the supermarkets in four key areas:

•    Their policy
•    Seafood sales
•    Labelling and consumer information
•    Sustainability initiatives

Marks and Spencer have the best overall seafood policy of all the supermarkets, with the most comprehensive seafood policy covering all of the fish sold in store.

The Co-operative was awarded gold for not selling any of the fish that the MCS say need to be avoided, which includes cod, skate and Bluefin tuna.

Sean Toal, acting chief executive at The Co-operative Food, said their gold award “demonstrates our commitment to responsible sourcing and sustainable seafood”.

The MCS concluded that Tesco, Iceland, Booths and Morrisons had scored well, but there was still room for some improvement. Meanwhile Aldi, Asda, Budgens, Farmfoods, Lidl and Spar did not respond to the survey.

Morrisons were commended for their labelling, with the report saying they were the leaders in this area, with all the other supermarkets told that labelling was an area for improvement.

Sustainable fishing has become more of an issue for shoppers after Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight earlier in the year. In January 2011 Fearnely-Whittingstall called the Government’s target to get 60% of fish to meet sustainable criteria unacceptable.

There has been an increase in shoppers buying different types of fish that are not under threat from overfishing, but shoppers are continuing to buy popular species like cod, too.

When buying fish, try to avoid types that are overfished or come from unsustainable fisheries. If you are in any doubt we recommend using The Good Shopping Guide to point you in the right direction.