News and blog

George Clark

MSC's Senior Commercial Manager, UK & Ireland

2018: A Year in Review

February 6, 2019

Cornish hake boat

As we go into 2019, we reflect on a fantastic and eventful 2018. Consumers spent nearly £1 billion on MSC certified products in the retail sector and the MSC ecolabel can be found on menus in over 3,500 UK and Irish restaurants. We welcomed two new British fisheries into the MSC programme (Poole Harbour clam and cockles, and SFSAG Rockall haddock), while SFSAG extended the scope of its northern demersal stock to include saithe, hake, plaice and whiting. Thank you to all who were involved in making these things happen and thank you to all of our valued partners for your continued efforts to protect seafood for future generations. Read on below for our 2018 roundup.


MSC labelled products (c) Peter Hair MSCThe MSC ended 2018 by reaching a number of major milestones in the UK and Ireland. Consumers spent nearly £1 billion on MSC certified products in the retail sector, thanks, in large part, to continued support from our partners across the industry. Tesco increased their range of MSC products by 50 percent from 2017, while almost 80 percent of Aldi’s wild range is now MSC certified sustainable. Asda launched 50 new MSC products, with Coop and Marks & Spencer also increasing their MSC product ranges. Sainsbury’s won MSC UK Supermarket of the Year for a fifth year in a row, while Waitrose was recognised for offering a broad range of British MSC certified species at their counters, winning MSC UK Fish Counter of the Year. Lidl UK ran a successful mussels ad campaign again and launched MSC Sustainable Fish Week in stores in October.

As a result of all of these efforts, 2018 saw record volumes of MSC labelled fish sold across the UK, a little below one third of all seafood bought in the retail sector bearing the MSC label.
We have also seen great progress in the canned fish sector with John West and Princes expanding their ranges of MSC tuna, salmon and mackerel, among other species. Birds Eye also demonstrated great leadership in aiming for total certification across their product line, with almost all UK fish products promoting the blue fish label, and a successful TV campaign featuring the logo alongside their iconic Captain Birdseye.

MSC cod cassouletIn addition to a successful year in retail, our foodservice family also grew in 2018, with JD Wetherspoon launching MSC labelled fish and chips across their pub chain and Café Rouge gaining certification across all of their sites. Premier Inn launched the UK’s first ever MSC certified yellowfin tuna on their Beefeater summer menu in 2018.
Thanks to our foodservice partnerships, our logo can now be found on menus in over 3,500 restaurants in the UK, from hotels to fast food outlets to fish and chip shops.

The volume of MSC-certified products purchased increased by 30 percent from 2016, translating to over 4500 tonnes of certified sustainable seafood dishes sold across the sector.

We also reached over 125 certified fish and chip shops in the UK and Ireland, and for a 6th year in a row an MSC certified chippy won Fish and Chip Shop of the Year at the 2018 National Fish and Chip Awards.

Pump scoop dredging for cockles, by ERance 
In 2018 we also welcomed five new British fisheries into the MSC programme, the Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle fishery, and the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) fisheries: Rockall haddock, hake, plaice and whiting. Following its certification in 2017, North Sea cod is now being sold across the country by retail partners and fish and chip shops alike. Finally, we wrapped up the year with positive steering group meetings for all fisheries participating in Project UK Fisheries Improvements (PUKFI), including the launch of all Stage 1 Fishery Improvements Projects (FIPs) on Fishery Progress and the second set of meetings for the Stage 2 nephrops and scallop fisheries.

Thank you
It goes without saying that our success in the UK has been made possible by committed partners across the seafood industry. We appreciate your support and look forward to a productive and even more sustainable 2019. 
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