Shoppers in the UK have increased their grocery spend on sustainable fish and seafood, according to the latest retail sales figures from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
In the year to 31 March 2015, UK shoppers spent an estimated £403m* on MSC certified sustainable seafood, an increase of 16% compared with the previous year, and 30% more than they spent two years ago.
UK shoppers are now choosing from more MSC certified sustainable seafood products than ever before, with over 1,100 MSC labelled products available – more than twice as many as in 2012 – including popular species such as cod, haddock, prawns and tuna, branded products including Birds Eye fish fingers, as well as health supplements, pet food and baby food. Most of the major supermarkets sell MSC certified produce, including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi.
Toby Middleton, programme director for MSC in the UK, said: “As well as the increased availability of MSC certified products, consumer awareness of MSC has increased over recent years. Five years ago, one in five UK shoppers recognised the MSC ecolabel, but now it’s more than one in four shoppers. As more MSC certified produce becomes available, both on the high street and in the foodservice sector, we would expect consumer awareness of the label – and consumer demand for MSC certified produce – to continue to grow.”
The number of MSC certified fish and chip restaurants in the UK has doubled this year, and diners can also choose MSC certified seafood in restaurants including Wahaca, Feng Sushi and McDonalds. Students at 21 UK universities and more than 3,500 schools can choose MSC certified seafood in their canteens.
Middleton adds: “When shoppers and diners choose seafood with the MSC ecolabel, they reward the fisheries, retailers, brands and restaurants that are committed to sustainable sourcing, and incentivise others to improve their practices, helping to ensure that the life in our oceans is safeguarded for the future.”
Seafood is the world’s single most traded food commodity – about 10 times the value of coffee. Globally, 1 billion people rely on fish for their main source of protein and around 10% of the world’s population rely on it for their livelihood. MSC certified seafood includes almost 10% of wild caught seafood globally, and 45% of the wild catch in the UK. More than half of the world’s wild salmon is now MSC certified, and the volume of MSC certified lobster increased by six times over the year.
The MSC label gives shoppers and diners an independent assurance that their meal was sourced sustainably, and is fully traceable from ocean to plate.