The UK’s high street restaurant and pub chains have made marked improvements in their sourcing of sustainable seafood.
Fish2Fork assesses foodservice businesses on the sustainability of the seafood on offer, the sourcing policies in place and the information provided to the public. The scores range from a “5 blue fish” for the best to a “5 red fish”, the worst. How the scores are compiled remains a closely guarded secret in order to keep foodservice firms on their toes.
Of the 11 major chains assessed this time around, six have made progress, with Café Rouge and Bella Italia (both part of the Casual Dining Group) singled out for particular praise. “We have worked hard to scrutinise our supply chain, systems and processes to categorically ensure sustainable sourcing across all our brands,” said the group’s chief financial officer, Tim Doubleday.
Harry Ramsden's, Côte Brasserie, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Carluccio’s and Eat also achieved “blue” ratings in the scheme (which is now part of the Marine Conservation Society’s work).
At the other end of the table languished Wetherspoon, Itsu and Prezzo – all had “red” scores. Wetherspoon and Prezzo both failed to make it clear, either on their menus or direct to Fish2fork, where their king prawns came from. Itsu has prawns on its menus but fails even to highlight what type are used. Similarly, Prezzo served sea bass but failed to make clear if it was farmed or wild.
Fish2Fork MD Tim Glover told Footprint that a lack of information on menus or online isn’t always a sign of unsustainable sourcing, but some chains are not making it easy for diners to tell who has made the effort and who hasn’t. “Some are doing good things but not telling people about it,” he explained. “The failure is partly because they don’t think about it.”
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said the pub group had taken on board the findings and would continue to work with MCS to “improve the information that we provide to our customers”.
A spokesman for Itsu said: “We continually practice sustainable sourcing of our fish and seafood, but haven’t necessarily shouted about it. We are particularly proud of our salmon sourcing and have pioneered direct farm to sushi box sourcing.”
Prezzo did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.