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Supermarkets failing to meet consumer demand for sustainable fish



There is a growing gap between supermarkets when it comes to offering their customers labelled sustainable seafood choices that protect the ocean environment, despite growing demand from consumers, according to a study.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) found that Sainsbury’s topped the table in terms of the number of sustainable seafood products offered, with 163 certified products on sale for the last financial year. However, Sainsbury’s number is almost twice that of its closet competitor, Waitrose, which is in second place with 79 products and more than three times the number of products stocked by Marks & Spencer.

The figures highlight the vast difference in choice depending on where shoppers buy their groceries. Tesco was found to have “stalled”, whilst Morrison’s and Asda both saw the number of certified sustainable products they sell fall over the period.

The latest figures follow a MSC consumer survey, which found 71% of Brits believe that it is important that supermarkets sell sustainably caught fish. Furthermore, 61% said eco-labels were the most trusted way to know what they were purchasing was sustainable.

Toby Middleton, senior UK country manager for the MSC, said, “We know that consumers expect sustainable seafood choices in their supermarkets but not all supermarkets are making it easy for their customers.

“UK shoppers expect sustainability to be built into their purchase, regardless of their price point.”

MSC certified sales of the UK’s most popular fish species, such as cod, haddock and tuna, have increased by 300% in just two years, clearly demonstrating a demand from consumers. The growth in sustainable fish sales is supported by MSC certified fisheries, in 2010, around 500,000 tonnes of certified cod was landed globally, passing one million tonnes in 2014.

“Safeguarding the world’s oceans is essential if we are to maintain healthy fish populations, economies and ecosystems. By choosing MSC labelled fish and seafood, shoppers are helping to transform the way oceans are fished,” Middleton added.

Photo: chokingxl via Flickr

Further reading:

Sustainable fisheries ‘good investment opportunity’, says Prince Charles’ charity

Asda becomes first supermarket to publish sustainable fish report

UK sees rise in sustainable fish on sale

Sustainable investment as a solution to the world’s ocean crisis

Tropical fish stocks under increasing pressure, study finds