Sales of sustainable fish reach £500m

UK shoppers spent £509.6m on seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2015/16, up 27% on the previous year.

The increase, which came despite declining shop prices, shows that UK consumers are “some of the most ethically-minded”, said MSC, buying an eighth of the world’s sustainable seafood.

Globally, $4.6bn (£3.8bn) worth of products marked with the ‘blue tick’ logo were sold last year, totaling 659,399 tonnes. Brands and retailers had fuelled growth, said MSC in its annual report, “From sustainable fishers to seafood lovers”.

Germany leads the way in terms of availability, with some 4,212 MSC products. There are currently 1,659 MSC products available in the UK – 200 of them at Sainsbury’s. The diversity of products is increasing all the time, with the ecolabel now adorning everything from frozen fish and pet food to fish oil and baby foods.

The foodservice industry is also “playing an increasing role in sourcing and supplying sustainable seafood”, MSC noted. More than 75 fish and chip shops now sell MSC fish, whilst in the past year Sainsbury’s and Waitrose both had their in-store cafeterias certified.

On the high street McDonald’s “continues to push the sustainability agenda”, said MSC, noting that its entire Spanish operation (more than 490 restaurants) this year became the first national chain to offer MSC-certified tuna on its menu.

A survey of 16,000 consumers, published within MSC’s report, showed that 62% have confidence and trust in brands that use ecolabels. More than two thirds (68%) also felt brands needed to independently verify their claims in relation to sustainability.

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