THE CHANGING tastes consumers have always presented a challenge to the foodservice sector. In recent years, the ethical credentials of outlets that sell seafood and other finite resources have come under increased scrutiny.
We know from our own research that consumers trust those who provide seafood to be “doing the right thing” when procuring their products.
Furthermore, businesses are finding that their customers now expect a responsibly sourced and traceable product. This has meant that all stages of the supply chain have had to look for new ways to demonstrate transparency in their seafood procurement to remain competitive.
This is, of course, a positive step. Ensuring a sustainable future for our oceans and the international seafood industry is paramount.
However, meeting this demand requires collaboration and innovation from both the buyers and sellers of seafood in the UK. At Seafish, we have developed a free online tool that can help the foodservice sector make more informed decisions by providing access to up to date information on the fisheries their seafood is sourced from.
The Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood (RASS) now lists 280 fishery profiles containing information on stock status, the efficacy of management, as well as seafloor habitat and bycatch impacts. Information on social issues affecting the fisheries will be added next year, giving seafood buyers a fuller picture of how the seafood they buy is harvested.
Access to this kind of information can allow the foodservice sector to continue to provide seafood to their customers with confidence. What’s more, Seafish also provides a certification for fishing vessels to demonstrate their adherence to industry best practice on everything from crew welfare to handling catch.
The industry’s commitment to responsibility and traceability in procurement is going to be highlighted further during Seafood Week, which starts today (October 9th). Every stage of the supply chain, including the foodservice sector is being encouraged to get involved.
Indeed, co-operation will allow businesses to discover new, innovative ways to commit to a more socially conscious seafood procurement process, which will both meet the changing tastes of consumers and ensure that generations to come will have the chance to enjoy one of the UK’s favourite foods.
Tom Pickerell is technical director at Seafish.