Consumers hooked on sustainable fish as global sales pass €4bn mark

By David Burrows

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/JackF
©iStock/JackF

Related tags: Seafood

A total of $4.6bn (€4.2bn) was spent on 659,399 tonnes of sustainable seafood last year, according the latest data published by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The leadership shown by retailers and brands has helped accelerate growth, MSC said, as it published new figures showing that 9.3 million tonnes of MSC-certified seafood were caught in 2015-16, up 6% on the previous year.

MSC now represents almost 10% of the total global wild caught seafood by volume, rising to more than 40% in the Northeast Atlantic and 83% in the Northeast Pacific.

The MSC’s report also included the results from a survey of 16,000 consumers, more than a third (37%) of which said they had seen the Council’s ‘blue tick’ on products. Familiarity with the logo varies considerably, however: from 13% in Canada up to 71% in Switzerland.

Almost two thirds (64%) are likely to recommend the label to people they know, whilst 86% said they trust it and are ‘positive’ about the organisation’s impact.

Fishing boat © iStock typhoonski
©iStock/typhoonski

The survey also showed support for ecolabels more generally – 62% of respondents said they have more trust and confidence in brands that use them. A similar number (68%) said brands needed to independently verify their claims in relation to sustainability.

99.6% accurate

The report noted that of the 256 products tested last year, only one was labelled incorrectly: in Germany, a product labelled as MSC-certified Southern rock sole was actually certified Northern rock sole from the same fishery.

“We’ve investigated and are satisfied that this was a simple mix-up between two closely related certified species, but steps have been taken to ensure the error won’t happen again,”​ the MSC noted. DNA testing is also due to be expanded, with more work planned on shellfish.

MSC
20,000 products carry the MSC certified logo. Pic: MSC

Earlier this year, MSC announced that German retailer Netto’s Las Cuarenta Paella became the 20,000th​ product to bear the MSC’s blue tick logo​. The current figure is 20,492, up 1,800% since 2008 when the total stood at 1,074.

Back in 2008, the UK had the most MSC products in Europe with 160, followed by Germany, which had 131. But Germany now leads the way with 4,212, way ahead of the Netherlands (1,504), Sweden (1,366) and the UK (1,351).

There are 96 countries where MSC seafood can be bought, covering 108 different species. A big growth area is the trend for MSC-certified supplements, in the form of fish oils rich in omega-3, the MSC said.

“Accelerated growth in the MSC certified supply chain, and more MSC labelled products, demonstrate a growing demand for traceable, sustainable seafood,” ​said CEO, Rupert Howes as he praised retailers and manufacturers for “driving a chain reaction”​ in the supply chain.

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