UK supermarkets urged to sell more sustainable fish

Sainsbury’s has been top of the table since 2010 Sainsbury’s has been top of the table since 2010

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has said that UK supermarkets need to step up to the mark to make it easier for their customers to buy sustainable seafood.

New figures released by the MSC reveal a growing gap between supermarkets when it comes to offering their customers ecolabelled sustainable seafood choices, despite the availability of MSC certified fish being better than ever, with a million tonnes of MSC certified cod caught last year. 

Since 2010, Sainsbury’s has been top of the table in terms of numbers of products stocked, with 163 MSC-certified seafood products for the last financial year. The retailer’s product numbers are almost twice its closest competitor, Waitrose, which is in second place with 79 certified seafood products and more than three times the number of products stocked by M&S.

Despite a growing demand for demonstrably sustainable seafood, the MSC says that Tesco has stalled with the number of MSC ecolabelled products on its shelves going from 17 in 2010 to 18 in 2014. Morrison’s commitment to certified sustainable seafood has dropped from 12 to 8 and Asda has similarly fallen from 27 to 21 certified sustainable products over the same period.

Earlier this year, the MSC published an independent consumer survey which revealed that 71% of UK respondents said they believed that it is important that supermarkets sell sustainably caught seafood.

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 built in to their purchase, regardless of their price point.”

He said that Sainsbury’s has already shown that price need not be a barrier to sustainability with even their Basics fish fingers MSC certified, at 65p a pack.

“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 the oceans are fished.”

He said that other supermarkets must follow the lead of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose if they want to maintain growth in market share over the long term.

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