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UK seafood shoppers choose Sustainability over Price and Brand



According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), UK shoppers are more concerned with preserving the oceans than price and brand when buying seafood


In fact, over half (52%) of British seafood consumers are willing to pay more for certified sustainable seafood – specifically, up to 11% more on MSC-labelled products. Furthermore, over three quarters (77%) of respondents agreed that in order to save the oceans, shoppers should only consume seafood from sustainable sources. Sustainability was rated  above price and brand suggesting that shoppers  take a more eco-friendly approach to buying seafood than other consumer goods, where price and brand are typically top considerations.

Concerns about sustainability stretch across the age ranges. A young generation of eco-friendly shoppers is coming to the fore, with 18-34 year olds demonstrating not only concerns about the traceability of the fish they buy today but also a desire to preserve stocks for tomorrow. More than two thirds claim they want to know the fish they buy is traceable and recognise that by buying eco-labelled fish and seafood they are helping to ensure there will be plenty more fish left for future generations (69%). They are also more likely to trust a product’s origins if it has an ecolabel (62%).

Older shoppers seem the most willing to take their concerns a step further and change their behaviour to ensure the fish they eat is exclusively eco-friendly. The vast majority say we need to eat only sustainable seafood.

Toby Middleton, UK Programme Director for MSC, says: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see that shoppers are choosing sustainability over brand and particularly price when buying seafood. The good news is that as more and more supermarkets and fish and chip shops adopt MSC certification, shoppers will have a greater range of sustainable brands to choose from to suit all pockets – from Lidl to Selfridges.”

Reliable labelling is key in making an informed decision, with seven in ten (70%) wanting supermarket brands’ sustainability and environmental claims to be independently verified and 58% saying that such ecolabels raise their confidence and trust in a brand.

Concerns about sustainability have a direct impact on shopping habits; a third (34%) of consumers say they purchase more ecolabelled fish and seafood products now than a year ago and this is backed by data that shows that £1 in 6 spent on seafood in UK supermarkets is now spent on an MSC labelled product. Further data shows that over the previous year, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew by more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%.

Achieving real change

Moreover, the choices shoppers are making to buy more MSC fish is having a real impact on the water. MSC’s recent global impacts study shows that of the 281 certified fisheries 94% have made at least one additional improvement to strengthen or further monitor their sustainability helping to drive healthy oceans around the world.

The survey was carried out by independent research and insights company GlobeScan, on behalf of the MSC. Over 16,000 seafood consumers in 21 countries took part in the research, which ensured a statistically representative sample in each country.

Middleton adds, “Choosing seafood with the MSC ecolabel rewards the fisheries, retailers, brands and restaurants that are committed to sustainable sourcing, and incentivises others to improve their practices, helping to ensure that the life in our oceans is safeguarded for the future.”


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