Luxury seafood is sustainable and affordable this Christmas, says Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

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UK shoppers rarely venture beyond the ‘big five’ fish – salmon, tuna, cod, prawns and haddock – but with sustainable, seasonal favourites like lobster, crab and caviar on sale for less than a fiver, Christmas is the ideal time to broaden their horizons, says the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

A YouGov survey for the seafood ecolabel found that nearly seven in 10 UK adults (69%) had bought fish to eat at home within the last month, but more than two thirds of those shoppers (69%) had stuck to three species or fewer, despite the wide range of fish and seafood available.  Salmon was most popular in the south and east of the UK, while cod was top choice in the north, west,* Wales and Northern Ireland. Haddock was most likely to be put in Scottish shopping baskets (see table below for full regional breakdown).

Toby Middleton, programme director for MSC in the UK, said: “Your favourite fish may depend on which part of the UK you come from, but what shoppers across the UK have in common is that they tend to put the same few species in their shopping baskets. Yet it’s easy to be a bit more adventurous – there’s a huge variety of seafood available on the high street, and if you look for the MSC ecolabel you can expand your repertoire with confidence, knowing that your fish has been sourced sustainably and is traceable from ocean to plate.”

New sustainable seafood on sale for Christmas

The festive period is an ideal time for shoppers to broaden their horizons, with many high street retailers selling seasonal favourites that have been MSC certified. These include whole lobsters at Lidl (£4.99, 350g), Waitrose (£6, 400g) and Tesco (£6, 400g), and lobster tails with garlic butter or thermidor butter at Aldi (£9.99, available from 21 Dec). This Christmas, UK shoppers can also buy MSC certified caviar for the first time (John West Lumpfish Caviar, retailers including Sainsbury’s, £2.50 for 50g) and John West Dressed Crab has also become MSC certified as sustainable (retailers including Waitrose, 98p, 43g).

“Lobster, crab and caviar have long been considered luxuries, but for the last couple of Christmases we’ve seen UK retailers selling them at lower prices. What’s different this year is that more of these products have been MSC certified, so now they’re sustainable and affordable,” added Middleton.

Year-round, UK shoppers can choose from 25 different fish and seafood species that have been MSC certified as sustainable, including white fish such as pollock and plaice, oily fish like herring and sardines, and shellfish including scallops and mussels, as well as less familiar species such as redfish. By choosing products that carry the MSC ecolabel, shoppers reward the fisheries that are committed to sustainable sourcing, and incentivise others to improve their practices, helping to ensure that our oceans are safeguarded for the future.

UK adults who bought most popular species to eat at home in previous month (top choice for each region in bold):

Region Salmon Tuna Cod Haddock Prawns/ shrimp Didn’t buy fish Bought 3 or fewer species Bought 5 or more species
All UK

34%

27%

31%

20%

21%

31%

69%

16%

England

34%

26%

31%

19%

21%

32%

68%

15%

Wales

37%

34%

39%

19%

19%

24%

74%

14%

Scotland

32%

30%

19%

36%

22%

28%

74%

14%

Northern Ireland

25%

29%

42%

16%

23%

19%

Sample too small

Sample too small

North East

19%

17%

24%

13%

22%

33%

86%

10%

North West

28%

23%

33%

16%

18%

32%

76%

8%

Yorkshire &Humber

29%

25%

30%

27%

17%

34%

73%

16%

East Midlands

33%

25%

32%

25%

20%

30%

70%

13%

West Midlands

30%

22%

33%

13%

16%

45%

70%

13%

East of England

41%

28%

32%

16%

23%

29%

60%

20%

London

45%

29%

32%

17%

20%

28%

60%

17%

South East

37%

32%

30%

22%

31%

29%

64%

21%

South West

32%

28%

33%

17%

19%

33%

71%

16%

*West refers to North West, South West, West Midlands. Regionalised figures are also available for pollock, mackerel, trout, sardines, sole, plaice, crab, herrings/kippers, other species.